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January 1983, Vol. 106, No. 1
Collective bargaining in 1983:
a crowded agenda
William M. Davis
Collective bargaining activities in 1983 follow a year of unprecedented developments. Settlements in major private industry collective bargaining situations (those covering at least 1,000 workers) reached in the first 9 months of 1982 provided the lowest first-year and over-the-life average wage adjustments since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began compiling such data in 1967. Moreover, two-fifths of the 2.7 million workers covered by the 1982 settlements are not scheduled to receive a specified wage increase in 1983. Unless the economic health of some industries improves, questions of job security and company survival are likely to overshadow wage and benefit improvements on the 1983 bargaining agenda.
This article discusses major collective bargaining situations in private industry covering 8.5 million workers, or about 1 in 8 wage and salary workers, and focuses on scheduled negotiations, deferred wage adjustments, and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
Economic conditions that will exist at the time of negotiations are unpredictable, of course. However, economic forecasts generally range from moderate recovery to continuing recession. In November 1982, the unemployment rate reached 10.8 percent, the highest since 1940. Industrial production in October was down 8.6 percent from a year earlier, accompanied by a drop in the factory utilization rate to 68.4 percent, the lowest rate since the Federal Reserve Board began the series in 1948. The rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index has been declining; in October, the CPI for all urban consumers was 5.1 percent above the year-earlier level, compared with 8.9 in 1981 and 12.4 percent in 1980. At the same time, interest rates began dropping from recent high levels.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 1983 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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