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Clothing industry contracts.

The Ladies' Garment Workers and several associations of clothing manufacturers negotiated 3-year contracts expected to eventually affect about 125,000 members of the union. The initial accords were with employers in dress, coat and suit, sportswear, and rainwear manufacturing.

The employees will not receive a wage increase in the first contract year, but the employers' financing of benefits was increased to an amount equal to 3.75 percent of payroll, from 2.75 percent. A union official said the resulting improvements in benefits will vary among contracts because of varying conditions of the funds, and that most of the increased funding will be used to help offset rapidly rising medical costs.

The workers will receive a 6-percent pay increase in the second year and a 5-percent increase in the third year. According to the union, pay was about $6 to $6.50 an hour at the May 31, 1985, expiration date of the prior 3-year contract, which provided for wage increases totaling $1.10 an hour.

The employers had initially proposed a 3-year wage freeze, contending that any substantial labor cost increase would further erode their ability to compete against foreign producers rapidly increasing their sales in the United States.

In another segment of the apparel industry being buffeted by increased imports, the Clothing Manufacturers Association and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers agreed to take a "breather" from tough bargaining by extending their agreement for 4 months. The 1982 agreement for 53,000 workers in men's and boys' apparel manufacturing had been scheduled to expire May 31. In the current talks, the association led off with a demand for a 15-month pay freeze, linkage of possible future increases to inflation and market conditions, and an easing of work rules. Under the 38-month 1982 contract, the workers had received pay raises totaling $1.05 an hour, bringing their range to $7-$8 an hour.
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Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1985
Words:314
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