• According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, major labor contracts ratified in March 2013 in Canada included average wage increases of 1.9 percent, an increase from the 1.5 percent average increase in February 2013. The labor contracts included in these figures involved 500 employees or more. In the private sector, average wage increases in March 2013 were 2.3 percent, and average public sector wage increases for the same period were 1.6 percent. Sectors with the largest wage increases included wholesale and retail trade (2.5 percent) and construction (2.3 percent). Sectors were the lowest increases included manufacturing (1.5 percent) and finance and professional services (1.3 percent).
  • BNA reported that from January 1, 2013 through June 24, first-year compensation increases in new contract settlements averaged 2 percent, compared with 1.7 for the similar timeframe in 2012. Median first-year compensation increases were 2 percent in 2013, the same as the median increase for the comparable period in 2012. The weighted average first-year increase was 1.9 percent in 2013, compared with 2.6 percent for the same period in 2012. Construction industry contract settlements had the highest first-year compensation increases (3.5 percent). Manufacturing also saw above average first-year compensation increases (3 percent).
  • Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“SAG-AFTRA”) approved a three-year labor contract covering actors performing in commercials on television, radio, and the internet. The contract provides specific compensation increases for actors performing in internet and new media advertisements. The SAG-AFTRA national board approved electronic voting for the first time for this contract vote, with 97 percent of voters voting electronically.
  • Communications Workers of America (“CWA”) Local 1298 members approved a new labor contract with AT&T. The four-year contract covers approximately 3,200 wireline employees in Connecticut. The contract provides for 10.5 percent wage increases over the term, with a 5 percent increase in 2013, a 3 percent increase in 2014, and a 2.5 percent increase in 2014. Employees will also receive a $350 ratification bonus. In addition to wage increases, the labor contract provides for continued job security by capping the number of jobs AT&T can move to another state. Finally, the contract provides for an increase in employee health care contributions for health insurance premiums. For existing employees, individual premiums will increase from $35 to $58 per month in 2014, then to $79 and $90 per month in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Family contributions will increase from $75 to $121 in 2014, then to $163 and $195 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
  • On June 4, members of the United University Professors union, which represents some 35,000 professors and staff at the State University of New York, approved a new labor agreement retroactive to June 2011. The five-year agreement preserves existing salaries through 2013 and provides 2 percent salary increases in both 2014 and 2015. The agreement also requires that union-represented employees take nine days without pay during the next two years. The workers will be repaid seven days of this lost pay when the contract expires. Finally, the agreement requires employees to increase their health care contributions. Workers that earn less than $40,137 annually will see 2 percent increases for individual and family coverage. Workers that earn more than $40,137 will see 6 percent increases for individual and family coverage.
  • On June 6, Alaska Airlines reached a tentative agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association over a deal that would cover the airline’s 1,480 pilots. If ratified, the five-year agreement would increase wages, strengthen job security, and improve benefits. The parties are keeping details of the agreement confidential until after the employee vote concludes. Voting started June 14 and continues through mid-July.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 members approved a four-year labor contract with grocery seller Kroger Co., covering approximately 5,800 employees at 61 store locations in Indiana. The new contract, which is retroactive to May 2012, provides $500 to $1000 lump sum ratification bonuses, $0.30 per hour wage increase in 2013, $0.25 per hour wage increase in 2014, and $0.30 per hour wage increase in 2015. The contract further provides that employee contributions for health care coverage will be fixed between $5 and $15 a week starting in 2014.
  • According to union representatives, Patriot Coal Corp. walked out of bargaining with the United Mine Workers of America and canceled further negotiations slated for the week of June 10. The parties began negotiating after a bankruptcy judge ruled last May that Patriot Coal can alter benefits for existing retirees and cut off health care benefits for current employees. The bankruptcy judge approved certain changes to the employee and retiree benefits in the May ruling. The union will soon vote on whether to accept these approved changes. If the union rejects the changes, the company is expected to unilaterally implement them.
  • United Steelworkers (“USW”) Local 1343 members in Milwaukee, Wisconsin approved a six-year agreement with Caterpillar Inc. The agreement, which covers some 800 workers, freezes existing wages and suspends the company’s existing defined benefit pension plan. Existing wages range from $18 to $33 per hour, with the average employee earning $28 per hour. With the suspension of the defined benefit pension plan, Caterpillar expects to transition to a 401(k) plan starting in 2014. The agreement also provides for a $2,500 ratification bonus payable in July and a second $1,500 bonus payable in November. The agreement permits Caterpillar to layoff employees for up to 10 weeks per year, but employees subjected to layoffs may receive state unemployment compensation benefits and $170 weekly payments from Caterpillar.
  • Members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Missouri, an affiliate of National Nurses United, ratified their first labor contract with Saint Louis University Hospital since the nurses organized there last year. The three-year contract covers some 600 registered nurses. The contract increases nurse compensation by 3 percent this year, 3 percent in 2014, and 3.5 percent in 2015. In addition, the contract will maintain existing health care coverage and costs, as well as the existing 401(k) plan. Finally, the contract prohibits mandatory overtime, which the nurses’ union claimed led to increased medical mistakes.
  • On June 20, USW members approved a master labor contract with Packaging Corporation of America. The four-year agreement covers more than 1,900 employees at 25 of the company’s box manufacturing facilities located across the United States. The contract increases wages by 2.5 percent in the first year, 2.5 percent in the second year, 2 percent in the third year, and 2.5 percent in the fourth year. The contract maintains existing health care benefits, under which employees pay no deductibles for in-network care, and in which the maximum out-of-pocket cost for in-network care is $1,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families. Finally, the contract maintains the USW’s neutrality agreement with Packaging Corp., which applies when the union tries to organize non-union company facilities.
  • Teamsters members rejected a new labor contract with the United Postal Service’s freight division. Based on preliminary numbers, more than two-thirds of members voted against the proposed agreement, which would have covered approximately 13,000 workers. The parties’ current agreement expires July 31. The dissident Teamsters for a Democratic Union stated that union members voted down the agreement because it would have created “a two-tier” compensation system with inadequate wages and benefits for “line haul” division workers.
  • Los Angeles and San Francisco security guards represented by SEIU-United Service Workers West approved new four-year labor contracts in June. The guards work for several private security companies, including Universal Protection, Securitas, ABM Security, and Allied Barton. The Los Angeles contract provides for $.040 hourly wage increases in July 2013 and February 2014, $0.25 hourly increases in February 2015, and $0.30 hourly increases in 2016. The San Francisco contract increases wages by $1.05 to $1.65 per hour over four years depending on the region of the city where guards work. The Los Angeles contract maintains existing health care benefits, under which workers pay a $1,000 deductible. For workers in one region of the city, employers pay 100 percent of health care costs. For workers in a different region, employers pay 90 percent of costs, but will begin paying 100 percent of costs for these workers in 2016.
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) members approved a five-year master labor contract with ABF Freight Systems Inc., a national freight transporter. IBT members also approved a majority of the regional supplements to the master contract, which must be approved in its entirety before the master contract becomes effective. The new contract will cover approximately 7,500 mechanics, dock workers, and clerical employees. The contract will decrease wages by 7 percent in the first year, but bring them back to pre-contract levels by the final contract year. The contract will also decrease paid leave by slowing the rate at which employees accrue vacation. The parties said these reductions were necessary to help the company reestablish financial soundness. ABF Freight has lost $230 million since 2009. The contract provides that if ABF files for bankruptcy or is acquired, the union negotiating committee may void the wage reductions.