• Bloomberg-BNA reports that the average first-year wage increased 1.6 percent under contracts negotiated in 2012, higher than the 1.4 percent increase reported for 2011 contracts. The average second-year increase was 1.9 percent, and the average third-year increase was 2.1 percent. The median for first, second, and third-year increases rose 2 percent for each year, while the weighted average increased 2 percent, 2.2 percent, and 2.5 percent. Of 2012 contracts, 32 percent called for a first-year wage freeze, 29 percent called for increases of up to 2 percent, 33 percent called for increases between 2 and 4 percent, and the balance called for increases above 4 percent. Forty-one percent of contracts called for changes to health care benefits, with measures to control health care costs being the most common change reported. Only 5 percent of contracts saw changes to 401(k) plans.
  • According to a Bloomberg-BNA analysis of 2013 settlements through January 21, 2013, the average first-year wage increased 2.7 percent compared with 1.8 percent in same period in 2012. A 2 percent median increase was reported, the same number reported for the comparable period in 2012. The weighted average increase was 3.8 percent, compared to 2.4 percent in 2012. Excluding government and construction contracts, the average increase for all settlements was 3.9 percent, and the median was 2 percent. In 2012, these figures were 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. When factoring in lump-sum payments, the average first-year increase rises to 3.6 percent, compared with 2.5 percent in 2012, while the 2013 median increase was 2 percent compared to 2.1 percent in 2012. Major Canadian collective bargaining agreements reached in October 2012 saw average base rate wage increases of 1.4 percent according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). HRSDC follows settlements involving 500 or more employees, and October’s report was based on eight agreements covering more than 56,000 employees. October’s average increase ticked up from September’s 0.9 percent increase, but was less than the 2.2 percent average growth seen in August. Seven of the eight agreements involved public-sector employees and averaged a 1.3 percent increase, while the sole private-sector agreement saw a 1.9 percent increase. Several major negotiations covering more than 177,000 employees were ongoing and expected to settle by the end of 2012 or were set to begin in early 2013.
  • The United Steelworkers and Kentucky River Medical Center have reached a tentative contract covering about 200 registered nurses, non-professional employees, and technical workers. If approved, the contract provides pay increases, and includes provisions concerning seniority, grievance and arbitration of contract disputes, and use of contract work. The deal was reached under a 2011 consent decree entered after the NLRB ordered reinstatement and back pay to employees alleging unfair labor practices. More specifically, the Steelworkers had alleged that Kentucky River refused to bargain in good faith, fired and replaced workers for union activity, and unilaterally changed conditions of employment.
  • US Airways and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) reached a tentative agreement covering 6,800 flight attendants. If ratified by members, the contract will provide flight attendants a $1,700 ratification bonus, pay increases every 18 months, and additional job protections. The deal would also pave the way for the AFA-CWA and US Airways to begin negotiating a transition agreement for the airline’s potential merger with American Airlines. AFA-CWA members rejected a prior deal with similar provisions in September 2012.
  • Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 420 and 457 ratified a new four-year contract with Connecticut Light and Power Co. covering around 1,000 employees. Over the four-year term, wages will increase 11.25 percent, but weekly health care premiums to employees also will increase, effectively reducing the term wage increase to 6.25 percent. The contract also establishes new work schedules shifting some workers from the second shift to the first shift in a move designed to relieve workers from frequent mandatory on-call work that required employees to be available 22 to 28 weekends per year.
  • The U.S. Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers will enter a four-and-one-half-year contract covering the period from November 20, 2011 to May 20, 2016. An arbitration panel award set the terms of the contract, which tracks similar contracts the Postal Service has recently entered with the American Postal Workers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association. Over the term of the agreement, bargaining unit employees will receive a 3.5 percent wage increase and seven cost of living adjustments. Postal employees covered by the contract also will see the cost of their health benefits rise, with the government-paid portion of premiums dropping to 76 percent by 2016. The Postal Service and the Letter Carriers will seek to establish a health benefit plan independent of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan that currently provides coverage under the contract.
  • Following one of the first private-sector union elections in the port trucking industry since the industry’s deregulation in 1980, truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles voted to ratify a three-year contract with the Australia-based trucking and logistics carrier Toll. The truckers, represented by the Teamsters since an April 2012 election, approved a contract with significant wage increases, overtime provisions, a union-backed pension plan, and mostly employer-paid health care. According to a company spokesman, the agreement essentially swaps an increase in truckers’ base rate of pay with a decrease in incentive pay. Truckers also have been enrolled in the Teamsters’ Western Conference Pension Trust, to which the company will now begin contributing. Toll will also pay 90 to 95 percent of truckers’ health care premiums.
  • Costco Wholesale Corporation and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) inked a three-year deal covering over 15,000 employees in California and on the East Coast. If ratified, Costco employees, already among the highest-paid retail employees in the country, will receive yearly pay increases and bonuses. The agreement also provides for expedited grievance procedures. The Teamsters were unable, however, to negotiate a defined benefit plan for East Coast workers, a prominent feature of the labor contracts applicable to Costco’s unionized West Coast employees. Approval ballots were sent in late January and results are scheduled to be announced February 19.
  • UFCW Local 1995, representing 9,000 workers at Kroger stores in eastern Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Alabama, approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with Kroger Co. Under the agreement, workers will receive wage increases of 60 cents per hour over the course of four years, while weekly health insurance premiums will also increase. Kroger’s contributions to the pension plan for the meal and deli departments will increase 10 percent to maintain current benefits, while contributions to the plan covering all other employees will not change. Workers received a signing bonus ranging from $600 to $1,500, and will receive an additional bonus in year two of the contract ranging from $200 to $500. The agreement is retroactive to May 2012.
  • Pinnacle Airlines pilots represented by the Airline Pilots Association ratified a new contract providing for reductions in pay and benefits. Pinnacle previously filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11, and indicated that it would require $76 million in annual savings to become viable again. Under the new contract, pilots agreed to a 9 percent pay cut across-the-board for all pilots, an increase in health care cost sharing, and a reduction in retirement benefits for senior pilots. Pinnacle has previously reached bargaining agreements with its dispatchers and flight attendants.
  • After a tumultuous 10-year effort, 335 workers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union Local 142 at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Honolulu approved their first contract with hotel management. Only one eligible employee opposed the agreement, which includes raises of up to 13 percent for non-tipped workers and 2.5 percent for tipped workers. Tipped workers will also receive banquet and room service charges, and all workers will receive full health benefits in addition to other perks. In the 10-year run up to the vote, workers went without a pay increase and the entire hotel workforce had twice been terminated. Both the NLRB and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court have issued findings against the hotel for multiple unfair labor practices.