• Analysis of collective bargaining data compiled by BNA for all 2011 settlements shows an average first-year wage increase of 1.4 percent, down from 1.6 percent in 2010. The median first-year increase for settlements in 2011 was 1.0 percent, down from 1.7 percent in 2010, and the weighted average was 1.6 percent, compared with 1.4 percent in 2010.
  • Members of the Newspaper Guild of New York, Local 31003, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, reached a tentative agreement with Thompson Reuters Corporation. The three-year contract, which also settles unfair labor practice charges the union filed with the NLRB, provides employees $17,500 in lump sums to compensate workers for cuts imposed in January 2010. In addition, employees will receive wage increases of 1.5 percent in each year of the contract, employee out-of-pocket health care co-payments will be capped at current levels, and the employer will increase its matching funds for 401(k) accounts.
  • Two affiliates of National Nurses United (NNU) called off planned strikes in Maine and Minnesota. Members of the Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA) approved a tentative one-year agreement by a vote of 51-49 percent. The compromise package addressed staffing, health insurance, and job security, but did not include staffing ratios. Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association called off a three-day strike after making “significant progress” to work out an agreement. The major issues in both Maine and Minnesota relate to staffing issues.
  • The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract with St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., ending the threat of a one-day walkout. The agreement provides for contractually guaranteed RN-to-patient ratios by limiting the number patients on days and evenings. The MNA also reached tentative agreement with Tuft Medical Center for an 18-month contract. The Tufts Medical Center agreement does not guarantee numerical limits on the number of patients a nurse must care for during a shift.
  • The United Steelworkers ratified a four-year agreement with the International Paper Company. Employees will receive a 1 percent wage increase in the first year, a 2 percent wage increase in the second year, a 1.5 percent wage increase in the third year, and a 2 percent wage increase in the final year of the contract. Workers will continue to contribute 20 percent of the health care premium for the basic preferred provider organization plan if the overall plan does not increase more than 10 percent per year. Any increase that exceeds 10 percent will be split equally between employees and the employer. The agreement also expanded pension and 401(k) benefits and covers over 6,000 workers at 15 U.S. based manufacturing facilities.
  • The United Steelworkers ratified a new contract with RG Steel covering over 6,000 workers at steel plants in West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Under the agreement, employees will receive wage increases of $1 per hour in the first year, followed by 4 percent increases in each of the second, third, and fourth years. For employees who are covered by the Steelworkers Pension Trust fund, the employer will increase its contribution for each covered worker from $1.80 an hour for employees at the Sparrows Point plant and $2.08 for employees at the Wheeling location to $2.65 an hour this year. On Jan. 1, 2013, the contribution rate will increase to $3.20 an hour.
  • Members of the United Transportation Union ratified an new contract with a coalition of freight and railroad companies. No details of the proposed five-year agreement have been released, but the agreement covers approximately 38,000 workers. Negotiations started in January 2010.
  • Members of National Nurses United ratified a 42-month agreement with the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., covering 1,650 registered nurses. The new agreement continues wage step increases throughout the contract, raises wages across the board in the third year, changes certain shift differentials to a flat rate, commits the hospital to hiring 200 new nurses, and establishes a regularly scheduled joint committee to address patient care and staffing. Further, the agreement switches retirement benefits from a cash balance plan to a defined contribution pension plan, shifts all nurses to a single health care plan, and reduces the number of paid time off days in a year.
  • Communications Workers of America locals 4400 and 4401 and Cincinnati Bell Inc., reached a tentative agreement on a 39-month contract covering 1,000 employees. The agreement introduces a two-tier wage and benefit structure for workers hired after Feb. 1, 2008. Tier 1 employees hired before Feb. 1, 2008, will receive health care coverage through a redesigned point-of-service plan or the new health savings account plan (HSAP), while tier 2 employees hired after Feb. 1, 2008, will receive health care coverage through a redesigned preferred provider plan or the new health savings account plan.
  • International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 2003 ratified a “last, best, and final” offer made by Army Fleet Support LLC in Fort Rucker, Alaska. The three-year agreement, covering a 3,800 person bargaining unit including helicopter pilots, mechanics, and other base personnel who test and maintain aircraft for the Army.
  • Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 ratified a four-year collective bargaining agreement with Kroger Co. The agreement covers 2,400 clerks, meat-cutters, cashiers, and department heads at Fort Wayne, Ind., area grocery stores. Health care costs range from $2 per week for individual coverage to $22.50 a week for family coverage under the most comprehensive plan, the same as in the previous contract. Other provisions of the contract include: increase employer pension contributions, increases in top wage rates ranging from 30 cents to $1 per hour, and new positions at higher pay grades.
  • Disneyland Resorts plan to implement in June 2011, terms of its “last, best, and final” labor contract proposal for 2,100 hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 employed at three hotels at the California theme park. The hotel workers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired on January 31, 2008. The company proposed its last, best, and final offer in February, which provide that non-tipped hotel employees’ wages will increase 3 percent each year of the five-year term, housekeepers will have a decreased daily workload, and workers will have the option, with a $5,000 bonus incentive, of moving to any of seven Disney health care plans requiring employee premium contributions.
  • Major collective bargaining agreements reached in Canada during the first quarter of 2011 produced average base rate wage increases of 1.3 percent, slightly smaller than the 1.5 percent average reported for the fourth quarter of 2010.