Bloomberg BNA reports that contract settlements through February 23, 2015 showed an average first­year wage increase of 2.7 percent, compared to 1.9 percent during the same period in 2014. Median first­year wages increased 2.3 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2014 and the weighted average increased to 4.3 percent from 3.1 percent in 2014. The average increase in settlements rose significantly when construction and state and local government contracts were excluded to 3.7 percent, compared with 2.1 percent in 2014. The median increase when the sectors were excluded rose to 2.8 percent from 2.6 percent in 2014 and the weighted average increased to 4.6 percent from 3.3 percent. Average first­year wage settlements increased by 3.1 in 2015 when lump­sum payments were included, compared with 2 percent in 2014. The median increase when lump sums were included was 2.5 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2014, and the weighted average was 5 percent, compared with 3.2 percent in 2014.

According to Bloomberg BNA, 16 percent of non­construction contracts included lump­sum payment provisions in 2014, down from 17 percent in 2013. When lump sums were added to wage increases, the average first­year wage in non­construction contracts increased by 2.4 percent. The median average increase was 2 percent and the weighted average increase was 2.9 percent. Flat­dollar amounts constituted 75 percent of lump sum bonuses, averaging $1,176 in the first year, $783 in the second year, and $1,050 in the third year. Payments based on a percentage of the previous year’s pay made up the other 25 percent of lump sum bonuses, averaging 2.2 percent in the first year and 1.7 percent in the second and third years. No construction contracts included lump sum payments.

Labour Canada reports that collective bargaining agreements provided an average base rate wage increase of 1.7 percent to covered Canadian employees in 2014. The 216 agreements involving 500 or more employees that were reached in 2014 had an average duration of 46.1 months and covered 647,560 employees. Labour Canada additionally reported 17 major work stoppages in 2014, involving 70,674 employees and resulting in 1.25 million person­days not worked.

The UAW agreed to contribute $355 million to a new voluntary employees beneficiary association (VEBA) trust to settle a putative class action lawsuit filed by a group of retirees. The retirees claimed that the UAW refused to settle grievances about changes to their benefit plans in arbitration, in contravention of collective bargaining agreements between the UAW and the Staff Council of International Representatives and the Office of Professional Employees International Union. Under the settlement, the UAW will have no further obligation to provide its present or future retirees with health care benefits, which will instead be administered by the VEBA. The settlement is pending approval by Eastern District of Michigan. Office and Prof’l Emps. Int’l Union, Local Union 49,4 et al. v. United Auto. Aerospace and Agric. Implement Workers of Am., Int’l Union.

Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have ratified a five­year contract with Norfolk Southern Corp. The contract provides the 4,600 covered workers a 15 percent wage increase over the term of the contract as well as signing bonuses, lump­sum payments, and annual bonuses based on corporate performance. Also covered in the contract are the establishment of an electronic predictable workforce­ scheduling system and the continuation of a 30 percent employer match to employees’ 401(k) plans. Worker health and welfare plan terms will be determined by a pending national agreement between the National Carrier’s Conference Committee (the railroads’ bargaining representative) and 13 unions, including BLET.

Kellogg Co. has stated that it may close one of its four U.S. cereal plants following the rejection by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union of a proposal to alter a master labor contract. The proposals would require concessions from union members in return for a four­year guarantee that Kellogg would not close any U.S. plants. In a letter asking the BCTGM to reconsider, Kellogg maintains that the proposals are the “only opportunity yet identified to collectively achieve the cost savings necessary to stave off otherwise inevitable plant closures.” BCTGM has not yet restarted talks to revise the master labor contract, which covers about 1,500 employees across the United States and expires in October 2015.

Navistar International Corp. reached a four­year agreement with the UAW to provide annual pay increases, despite the company’s lack of profitability. Under the agreement, employees will receive lump sums equivalent to 3 percent of their pay in the first and third years and a 2 percent raise in their hourly pay in the second and fourth years. Additionally, employees will receive $1,000 signing bonuses and annual $1,000 profit­sharing checks, if the company earns a profit. The contract also requires the production of 75 trucks per day and mandates job rotation, requiring that all employees learn a second job at their work site within 18 months.

United Airlines reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) to outsource about 1,100 fleet­service jobs to contractors. Under the cost­saving agreement, United will retain about 800 fleet­ service jobs that were originally targeted for outsourcing.

Members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1109 in Brooklyn, N.Y. ratified a labor contract with Cablevision Systems Corp. following more than three years of acrimony. In the years leading up to the agreement, the CWA filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, which found that Cablevision illegally discharged employees and illegally discouraged employees from supporting the union. Also prior to the agreement, Cablevision sought to have the union decertified as the workers’ representative. When the NLRB declined to hold a decertification election, the company hired an independent polling company to hold an election, in which workers voted 129­115 against union representation. Union spokesman Michael Rabinowitz­ Gold stated that the new contract increases worker wages to “96 percent parity with Cablevision workers throughout the rest of the company.” Workers will also receive the same health and 401(k) plan benefits as other Cablevision workers under the contract. The contract additionally implements a three­step grievance and arbitration procedure and prohibits disciplining or discharging unionized employees except for misconduct or discharge.

International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) Local 1049 tentatively agreed to a contract with National Grid, a Long Island, N.Y. utility. The agreement, which was held up by disagreements about health care and pension benefits, is subject to ratification on March 5th. Under the contract, weekly employee contributions to the health plan will remain the same, but co­pays and co­insurance costs will increase. Additionally, current employees will retain their defined­benefit pension plans, but new hires will fall under a defined­contribution plan.

FairPoint Communications Inc. reached a labor agreement with IBEW Locals 2320, 2326, and 2327 and CWA Local 1400, ending a strike by about 1,800 New England workers that had been ongoing since October 2014. The union workers had been on strike since the company implemented its “final proposals” regarding the outsourcing of work, pension freezes, and changes in retirement and health benefits without union members’ approval. The unions filed several unfair labor practices charges during the dispute, which were dismissed. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service reports that under the agreement, employees will receive “wages and benefits that are among the best” in the region. In addition to addressing 1­2 percent wage increases in 2016 and 2017, the new contract provides that the company will not use subcontractors in a way that results in job losses by union members, closes the defined benefit pension plan to new employees, reduces paid sick leave to six days per year and short­term disability to six months, and prohibits layoffs. Additionally, the agreement provides that employees will participate in a multiemployer medical plan and that workers who retire within 30 months of the contract entering into effect will be paid monthly stipends to pay their own and their spouses’ health insurance premiums.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has reached a tentative five­year contract with West Coast ports and the Pacific Maritime Association, ending nine months of negotiations and averting a complete shutdown of the ports, which could have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day. West Coast ports have been operating at reduced capacity since dockworkers began to slow cargo movement in October 2014, resulting in a backlog that will take six to eight weeks to clear. The agreement, which remains to be approved by union members, covers salaries, pension benefits, health care benefits, grievance procedures, and the right of union members to repair and maintain truck chassis used for hauling shipping containers. The Pacific Maritime Association publicized that the agreement includes raises of 3 percent per year for full­time dockworkers, fully paid health care costing $35,000 per employee per year, and a pension cap raise to $88,800 per year.

Members of Teamsters Local 710 in Mokena, Ill. signed a retroactive five­year contract with United Parcel Service (UPS), covering workers in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Under a carve­out agreement, Local 710 does not fall under the national master agreement that applies to most UPS workers nationwide. The agreement includes wage increases for full­ and part­time workers, switches union members to the Teamster’s health plan offered under the national master agreement, increases vacation pay, and includes language guaranteeing that UPS will “exhaust all reasonable efforts” to use union members over subcontractors.

Shuttle bus drivers represented by Teamsters Local 853 approved a three­year contract with Loop Transportation, which provides transportation services for Facebook. The contract, which Facebook still must accept, will increase average pay to $24.50 per hour, provide work hour guarantees, implement seniority provisions, and address health care and retirement benefits.