• A BNA analysis of collective bargaining data for all settlements through August 19 showed an average first-year wage increase of 2 percent, compared with 1.7 percent in the comparable period of 2012. The median first-year wage increase for settlements reported to date in 2013 was 2 percent, the same increase that was reported in 2012 and the weighted average was 1.8 percent, compared with 2.3 percent in 2012. When lump-sum payments were factored into wage calculations, the all-settlements average first-year increase to date in 2013 was 2.4 percent; the comparable period in 2012 reported a 2 percent increase.
  • Dignity Health and the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract covering 12,000 nurses throughout California and Nevada. The contract includes an accident prevention program – the first in the country in a major hospital system – that provides supplemental insurance protection for nurses injured in workplace violence or by needle stick accidents. It also commits the hospital to adopting meaningful policies for violence prevention; threat detection, assessment, and management; prompt investigation and zero tolerance for any reported issues; and safe staffing on all units on all shifts. In addition, the tentative contract would provide an enhanced accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy that includes benefit payments for felonious assaults (up to $200,000) and exposure to disease (for example, up to $3,300 per month for 60 months for occupational HIV, and up to $1,000 per month for 12 months for Hepatitis B). Under the contract, health care benefits, pensions, and retiree health benefits would remain in place with some improvements, and nurses would receive wage increases of 9 percent over the four-year term.
  • Members of the United Steelworkers ratified a new four-year contract with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The new contract covers approximately 8,500 workers at six plants in Buffalo, New York; Topeka, Kansas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; Gadsden, Alabama; and Akron, Ohio. The contract includes improvements in income, retirement, and job security, among other benefits. The contract also includes significant changes in the pension plan, but “minimal” changes in health care. In addition, the company committed to invest a minimum of $700 million in capital expenditures in the covered plants, which are protected from closure; however, the company may offer 150 separation allowance buyouts at the Gadsden plant and 400 additional buyouts at the other protected plants. The buyouts range from $8,000 to $50,000, depending on years of service.
  • A bankruptcy judge in Missouri approved a new contract between Patriot Coal Corp. and the United Mine Workers of America (“UMWA”). The new contract will improve wages and benefits for union workers, making up for some of the substantial reductions the judge approved in May after the company said reductions were necessary to save $150 million annually. Under the terms of the new deal, wages will be reduced to levels in place on June 1, 2012, but will be increased by $0.50 per hour on the first day of each year from 2015-2018. The reorganized entity will engage in discussions for wage adjustments in 2017 and 2018 that will permit a maximum wage increase of 10 percent. In addition, union workers will be offered a health plan that closely matches the plan offered to nonunion employees, but will face lower out-of-pocket maximums and will not have to pay health care premiums. Patriot Coal will contribute 3 percent of gross wages into a 401(k) or similar plan in lieu of retiree health care and will continue to contribute to the UMWA 1974 pension plan. On August 16, UMWA ratified the new agreement with a vote of 85 percent in favor.
  • Members of the United Steelworkers voted by a 2-1 ratio to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with Bridgestone Americas Inc. that covers 4,500 workers at six tire manufacturing facilities in Akron, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; LaVergne, Tennessee; Russellville, Arkansas; Warren County, Tennessee; and Bloomington, Illinois. However, the Steelworkers rejected a proposed three-year contract with BF Goodrich that would have covered 2,400 workers at plants in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Fort Wayne, Indiana. The new Bridgestone contract is effective upon ratification and provides a one-time wage increase and a $1,000 signing bonus; it also increases the pension multiplier by $2. Unlike the tire contracts at Goodrich and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., the Bridgestone agreement continues to provide all employees with retiree benefits under a defined benefit pension plan that covers current employees.
  • United Auto Workers (“UAW”) Local 2121 and the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise reached a tentative agreement covering 2,000 casino dealers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand, both located on a Native American reservation in Mashantucket, Conn. The parties have been negotiating for months to renew the landmark prior contract, which was the first labor contract reached under Native American contract law. The tentative agreement provides that dealers would receive annual pay increases totaling 11.5 percent over the term, and preserves their right to decide how tips are distributed. In addition, the dealers’ health care benefits currently in place would continue, with increased employee contributions to the health care premium in 2013, 2014, and 2015; a proposed voluntary wellness program would provide a rebate for employees who get annual physical and biometric testing, specific age-appropriate screenings, and clinical evaluations for certain chronic conditions. The UAW negotiating committee is recommending unanimously that union members vote for ratification.
  • Members of the Communications Workers of America (“CWA”) received details of the tentative agreement on the union’s first labor contract with CenturyLink. The CWA bargaining committee had unanimously recommended that members vote to ratify the agreement, which would cover 12,000 employees in 13 Western and Midwestern states, even though the deal would increase employee health care costs and would offset the increase with a rise in wages of only 2 percent over the four-year term. At the same time, the contract would provide lump-sum payments each year, limit contracted work by requiring the company to maintain minimum staffing levels of 80 percent of the work within specific organizations and circumstances tied to work volume, and commit the company to return jobs that have been outsourced and offshored.
  • The CWA and IBTreached a tentative 18-month agreement with U.S. Airways on a labor contract covering 6,500 passenger service employees and reservation agents. The proposed contract would provide wage increases covering all service employees’ seniority-based steps, as well as a $500 ratification bonus and a “no furlough” guarantee. The tentative agreement also includes job security provisions.
  • Members of the IBT at three airlines owed by Republic Airways Holdings Inc. voted to ratify, by a 646-440 vote, a five-year contract covering more than 2,000 flight attendants. The agreement provides signing bonuses and an 8 percent increase in base wages over the contract term for employees at Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines, and Shuttle America. The contract also includes cancellation pay – a significant issue in the negotiations – meaning that employees will now receive pay for their scheduled flight time if a flight is canceled.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers (“UFCW”)Local 152 members at 15 ShopRite stores in southern New Jersey voted to ratify a 16-month labor contract covering 2,500 workers. The workers ratified the contract in part in response to unresolved issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect unions and employers. Ninety percent of participating members voted in favor of the new contract, which includes a slight wage increase, a boost in pension contributions, and 100 percent employer coverage of health benefits.