• According to a BNA analysis of all collective bargaining settlements from Jan. 1 to March 22, 2010, first-year wage increases in settlements declined from the corresponding period in 2009, both overall and in various categories such as manufacturing. The overall average first-year wage increase declined to 1.6 percent, compared to 2.9 percent during the corresponding time period of 2009. Excluding construction and state or local government contracts, the average increase was 2 percent, still less than the 2.9 percent reported in 2009. When factoring in lump-sum payments, the 2010 overall average first-year increase was 1.8 percent, compared with 3.1 percent in the corresponding period in 2009.
  • A wage freeze aimed at preserving health benefits was a major component of a three-year contract approved by United Food and Commercial Workers members employed at grocery stores in the Minneapolis area, including Cub Foods, Byerly’s, and Lunds. The wage freeze allows the employers to continue to fully pay for health benefits and to address an unfunded pension liability of more than $60 million. The contract also reduces workers’ paid vacations and pension benefits, and will allow the pension fund to be considered healthy by 2020. In addition, the contract grants the employers more flexibility on work rules.
  • Since November, Northern California health care workers ratified six contracts covering 1,530 workers at Sutter health care facilities. The workers are represented by SEIU-UHW, which continues to negotiate three additional contracts at other area health facilities. The six ratified contracts include wage increases of between 9 and 15.5 percent over three years, prohibitions on subcontracting, and maintained health benefits.
  • Communications Workers of America District 3 members approved a three-year contract with AT&T Southeast Region which includes 8.75 percent wage increases and 6 percent pension benefit increases over the term, job security provisions, and direct payments of success sharing plan amounts. The contract, which covers 35,000 workers, also requires employees to begin making monthly contributions to health insurance premiums in 2011. The workers had rejected a tentative agreement in January.
  • By unanimous vote, members of SEIU Local 26 ratified a contract with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association and Marsden Building Maintenance. The 34 month contract covers 4,000 janitors. The workers will receive increased wages, broader health coverage at lower cost, and increased work hours. The workers perform janitorial services in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and most of the area’s commercial office buildings.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers members at five New England locations ratified new three-year contracts with Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. The contracts, which cover 36,000 workers at 240 stores, include five pay increases and ratification bonuses, and increased company contributions to pension plans. Beginning in the second year, employees will be required to contribute increased health payments.
  • United Steelworkers members ratified a three-year contract which covers 2,400 Appalachian Regional Healthcare employees at nine hospitals and 11 clinics in West Virginia and Kentucky. Negotiations began in January, and almost 90 percent of the employees voted in favor of the agreement. The contract includes a 4.75 percent wage increase over three years; a $250 ratification bonus; and additional vacation days for long-term employees. It also continues the health care coverage provided under the previous contract, with some increases in premiums and deductibles, and preserves pension benefits.
  • Members of UAW Local 2244 ratified a severance agreement with New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., prior to the closing of a car assembly plant in Fremont, Calif. The NUMMI plant employed 5,440 workers, including 4,550 represented by the UAW, and was a joint venture between Toyota and GM. The plant closed on April 1, after GM’s decision to drop its Pontiac line at the plant. The agreement, which was approved by 90 percent of union members, provides a base severance of $21,175 to each worker, with supplemental payments based on years of service and attendance. The pension fund for 5,800 NUMMI workers and retirees will be taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
  • Members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers voted to accept changes to their current contract with FairPoint Communications. The decision, which affects 2,600 unionized workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont is intended to help FairPoint emerge from bankruptcy and is subject to court approval. The changes include an extension of current collective bargaining agreements and cost-of-living provisions to August 2014, instead of expiring in August 2013 as planned; creation of a committee that will allow the unions to give input on running the company more profitably; and implementation of 401(k) matching in FairPoint stock. The unions blamed the bankruptcy on FairPoint’s acquisition of Verizon’s telecommunications operations in the tristate area.
  • Teamsters members ratified an agreement with Costco Wholesale Corp. covering 3,500 workers in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Virginia. The three-year contract includes wage increases of $1.50 per hour and bonuses between $5,000 and $8,000. The contract is similar to one ratified by California Costco employees in February. However, the California contract allows employee participation in a pension plan, while the East Coast workers instead receive an extra profit-sharing contribution to the 401(k) plan. Teamsters representatives stated that the union would continue to pursue improved pension benefits for the East Coast employees.
  • Dow Jones and Co. and the negotiating committee of the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees reached a tentative four-year agreement. If ratified, the agreement would cover 1,700 employees and would include a first-year wage freeze but subsequent pay raises, lower health care premiums, and expanded employer 401(k) contributions. In addition, the contract would increase shift differentials and standby pay, would allow overtime pay for working at home, and would preserve cost-of-living increases. The union board will vote on the tentative contract April 10.
  • United Healthcare Workers West members ratified agreements with Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, Calif., and retirement community O’Connor Woods in Stockton, Calif. The contract with Antelope Valley covers 1,050 employees for 39 months and includes six staggered 1 percent wage increases as well as step increases of between 2 and 2.5 percent. The contract with O’Connor Woods covers 200 workers and includes a signing bonus of up to $400, two staggered wage increases of 40 cents per hour, double time for working certain holidays, and improved health insurance options. Ratification of the O’Connor Woods contract ended a lengthy dispute which was ongoing since workers first voted for UHW representation in October 2005, and which included three attempts to decertify the union. UHW is a local of SEIU.
  • Average base wage increases achieved in Canadian collective bargaining agreements in January 2010 were up sharply from those in the fourth quarter of 2009. An analysis of 13 contracts covering 16,380 employees showed average base wage increases of 2.6 percent, as compared to 1.8 percent in December 2009, 2.0 percent in November 2009, and 2.2 percent in October 2009. This 2.6 percent increase was larger than the 1.9 percent adjustment in the Consumer Price Index. Private sector contracts reached in January 2010 had average annual wage increases of 2.1 percent, while public sector contracts in the same month averaged 2.8 percent. Sectors with the highest increases in January 2010 were transportation; education, health, and social services; and public administration