• The United Steelworkers voted, 4-1, to approve a new three-year contract with U.S. Steel Corp. one day after the previous contract expired. Approximately 16,000 workers at locations in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Alabama, would be covered by the new contract. Under the terms, wages would increase 2 percent on Sept. 1, 2013 and 2.5 percent in 2015, for a total of 4.5 percent over three years, with a $2,000 signing bonus. Retiree health care contributions will increase, but pension multipliers and employer contributions to the pension are unchanged.
  • The UFCW ratified a three-year contract with Kroger, covering 12,000 employees of the supermarket chain in Kentucky and Indiana. The contract provides for hourly wage increases from 50 cents to $2.00, depending on the employee’s job classification, seniority, and the volume of business at the store where the employee works. The contract also provides for a small increase in employee premiums for continued health care coverage and an increased employer contribution for the pension plan.
  • The United Steelworkers settled a new three-year agreement with ArcelorMittal USA after 10 weeks of negotiations. The agreement was reached seven days after the expiration of the previous contract, and provides for wage increases for employees and continuation of premium-free health care, though details are under wraps pending ratification. ArcelorMittal will also make capital investments in plants and improve worker training programs. The contract also limits the type of work which can be performed by outside contractors. The contract covers 14,000 workers at 14 locations across the country.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants — Communications Workers of America (“CWA”) ratified a concessionary deal with American Eagle. Eighty-seven percent of the voters approved the agreement, covering approximately 1,750 workers. The contract includes future wage increases, preserves work rules and does not include pay cuts and pay freezes. The pay raises of 1.5 percent are set for the third, fourth, and fifth years of the eight-year agreement. Additionally, the contract calls for an increase in vacation pay in the fourth year and an increase in longevity pay in the fifth year. American Eagle did manage to negotiate a decrease in the per diem rate for non-overnight work travel, as well as removing uniform cleaning allowances and reducing paid vacation by one week in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
  • The National Nurses United affiliate National Nurses Organizing Committee-Texas ratified first contracts with four hospitals in Texas owned by HCA. The three-year contracts cover 1,500 registered nurses, and provide for a wage increase of 2.25 percent in the first year, 2 percent in the second year, and 2.25 percent in the third year. The contracts also provide for a policy to establish nurse staffing levels based on acuity, which would be enforced be staffing committees comprised of registered nurses and hospital management. The National Nurses United and its affiliates represent nurses at 19 hospitals owed by HCA.
  • UFCW Locals 5, 8, and 648 approved a contract with Save Mart Supermarkets, covering 11,000 employees. The contract consists of a retail food agreement, set for renegotiation in October 2013, and a stabilization agreement that expires after two years. The stabilization agreement guarantees full-time employees at least eight hours per shift and part-time employees at least four hours per shift. Employees will also be allowed more flexibility in their work schedules and wages will increase from under $9.00 per hour to $10.40 per hour. The contract also reduces premiums for night work and suspends four holidays traditionally awarded to employees. Changes to health care benefits will be determined once larger negotiations between Raley’s Supermarkets, Safeway Inc., and the union conclude. The stabilization contract provides for retiree health care benefits, but calls for an increased contribution from the retiree.
  • The Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”) reached agreement on a proposed contract, ending a weeklong strike by the 26,000 teachers in the union. The proposal included a 17.6 percent increase in wages over the term of the agreement, including a 2 percent increase each year for four years. CPS agreed to eliminate its right to deny wage increases during a fiscal crisis. The contract includes a new short-term disability program that includes paid maternity leave, continued coverage of most of employees’ pension contributions, and a freeze on employee health care contributions. The agreement provides for a new evaluation system that will be designed by other teachers and will allow for teachers to be laid off based on performance, rather than only on seniority. Finally, the contract calls for 180 school days and 190 working days for teachers.
  • A four-year agreement was reached by the Communication Workers of America (“CWA”) and AT&T Mobility, covering 42,000 employees across the country. The contract provides a two-tier health care benefits structure, under which employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012, will contribute higher monthly premiums than those hired before the cut-off date. Health care reimbursement accounts would also be available for the earlier-hired employees.
  • The general executive board of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (“IATSE”) ratified a contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, networks and producers. The contract covers 8,000 members across the country, except in New York and Los Angeles, and will run until July 31, 2015. The 50,000 IATSE members working in Los Angeles and New York are covered under a similar contract that was approved in July. Both agreements provide for 2 percent wage increases annually and increased employer health plan contributions.
  • The Canadian Auto Workers reached four-year agreements with Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd., General Motors of Canada Ltd., and Chrysler Canada Inc., covering approximately 18,000 workers. All three contracts will expire in Sept. 2016, and do not provide for any increase in wage rates. The contracts set a lump sum cost of living payment instead of a percentage-based payment and provide for lump sum quality and productivity bonuses when ratified. Additionally, the agreements increase the time new employees must wait before earning full hourly wages to 10 years. The agreements also maintain the defined benefit pension plan system for active employees and do not provide for a two-tier wage system for union employees, originally demanded by the employers. Additionally, the contract with GM mandates that GM may only hire temporary employees during product launches.
  • The CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IBEW”) came to an agreement with Verizon Communications, Inc. on four-year contracts that would cover 40,500 employees in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The contracts would provide for a 2.25 percent wage increase after ratification, another 2.75 percent increase in August 2013 and a final increase of 3 percent in August 2014. The contracts provide for continued comprehensive health care, with employee contributions. Current employees would maintain coverage under the defined benefit pension plan, while new hires would be covered under a 401(k) retirement program.
  • A five-year contract with Constellium Rolled Products was ratified by members of the United Steelworkers Local 5668, ending a seven-week strike by 700 workers at the employer’s aluminum plant in Ravenswood, W.Va. The contract provides for wage increases of 2.5 percent each year, as well as a $7,500 ratification bonus. The contract also calls for the implementation of a health care plan covering 95 percent of the eligible charges of employees and their families, beginning in 2013. Similarly, the company would pay 95 percent of health care premiums, a decrease from the current program under which the company covered 100 percent of insurance premiums.
  • The International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance agreed to continue their collective bargaining agreement until December 29. The parties had been bargaining since March in an attempt to renew the contract, which covers 15,000 dockworkers on the East Coast and Gulf Coast. Federal mediators were brought in to assist in the negotiations, as a work stoppage would likely have interrupted the influx of goods during the holiday season.
  • Members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West approved a three-year contract with El Camino Hospital. The contract expires June 30, 2015, and provides for a 3 percent wage increase retroactive to July and a 1 percent increase in 2013 and in January and July 2014. The contract also reinstates health benefits with no employee contribution and a 403(b) retirement plan with contribution match, as well as a cap on accrual of paid time off.
  • The National Football League and the NFL Referees Association reached an eight-year agreement covering 121 referees. The agreement ended a lock-out of the referees that lasted three months. The agreement included an average wage increase to $205,000 by 2019, up from $149,000. Current referees will maintain their defined benefit plan until 2016, after which they will receive retirement benefits through a defined contribution plan. New hires will be covered under the defined contribution plan.
  • The UFCW and Piggly Wiggly Midwest reached a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a three-dispute. As part of the agreement, the parties will withdraw litigation currently before the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) and in federal court. The agreement covers 500 workers at six grocery stores in Wisconsin. The terms of the agreement were not published, although Piggly Wiggly agreed to pay $570,000 in back wages as part of the settlement.
  • A comparison of contract settlements for 2012 revealed that the average first-year wage increase was 1.7 percent, up from 1.3 percent for the same time period in 2011. The median increase in 2012 was 2 percent, up from 1 percent in 2011. Wage increases in settlements excluding construction and state and local government agreements averaged 2.3 percent, up from 1.7 percent in 2011. The median increase for these settlements was 2.3 percent, compared to 1.8 percent in 2011. The wage increase for manufacturing contracts was 2.2 percent, compared to 1.9 percent in 2011, with median increases of 2.5 percent in 2012 and 2 percent in 2011. Nonmanufacturing wages, excluding construction, increased 2.3 percent, jumping from 1.6 percent in 2011, with a median increase of 2.2 percent, compared with 1.7 percent in 2011. Wages in construction agreements went up 2.2 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2011, with a median increase of 2.3 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 2011. Contracts in state and local government had an average of 1.1 percent increase in wages in 2011, with a median of 1 percent, compared with a 1 percent average increase in 2011 and a median of 0.8 percent.