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Pay in synthetic fibers manufacturing in the Southern region.

Py in synthetic fibers manufacturing in the Southern region

Production and related workers in synthetic fibers manufacturing plants in the South averaged $10.03 an hour in September 1985, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics1. Virtually all of the 42,292 workers covered by the survey earned between $5 and $14 an hour; the middle 50 percent earned from $8.67 to $11.29. All but 1 percent of the workers were paid time (rather than piece) rates, nearly always under formal plans providing single rates for specific occupations.

The survey covered establishments producing two principal types of synthetic fiber suitable for further manufacture on textile processing machinery: cellulosic fibers, such as rayon and acetate; and other synthetic organic fibers (noncellulosic), such as nylons, acrylics, and polyesters. Manufacturers of cellulosic fibers often produced noncellulosics as a secondary product, but noncellulosic fiber plants generally did not produce cellulosic fibers.

Three-fourths of the cellulosic fiber workers and one-fifth of the noncellulosic workers were in establishments having collective bargaining agreements covering a majority of the production workers. The major union was the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (AFL-CIO).

Eighty-five percent of the workers were employed in plants primarily producing noncellulosic fibers. They averaged $10.41 an hour; the remaining workers, who were in plants primarily producing cellulosic fibers, averaged $7.91 (See table 1.)

Pay levels were also tabulated by type of area, size of establishment, and union status. Surveywide, wages averaged 12 percent higher in metropolitan areas than in non-metropolitan areas ($10.62 compared with $9.50) and in establishments with at least 1,000 employees than in smaller plants ($10.21 compared with $9.10).(2) Plants with fewer than 20 workers were excluded from the study. In establishments in which a majority of the workers were covered by labor-management agreements, the pay averaged $10.21, 2 percent more than the $9.96 recorded in nonunion plants. The higher paying noncellulosic fiber industry accounted for all of the workers in metropolitan areas and four-fifths of those in large plants (at least 1,000 employees), but for less than one-tenth of the unionized workers estimated by the survey.

Twenty-seven occupations, accounting for one-half of the cellulosic fiber workers and two-thirds of the noncellulosic fiber workers, were selected to represent the industries' wage structures, workers' skills, and manufacturing operations.

Among cellulosic fiber plants, occupational pay levels ranged from $6.59 an hour for throwers (who twist rayon or acetate yarn) to $9.57 an hour for general maintenance mechanics. Pay levels of other maintenance workers, generally the highest paid occupational group, ranged from $8.04 an hour for machinists to $8.77 an hour for pipefitters. Chemical operators, numerically the largest occupation, averaged $8.03 an hour, compared with $8.68 for spinners using the dry process.

Among noncellulosic fiber plants, average earnings ranged from $7.93 an hour for yarn winders and material handling laborers to $13.06 an hour for general maintenance mechanics. Dry-process spinners, numerically the largest job studied separately in noncellulosic plants, averaged $10.63 an hour, 6 percent more than their counterparts using the wet process ($10.05). Chemical operators averaged $10.96 an hour.

Where comparisons were possible, occupational averages were always higher in noncellulosic fiber manufacturing plants than in cellulosic fiber plants. The average wage advantage for noncellulosic workers ranged from 12 percent for janitors ($7.96, compared with $7.77) to 50 percent for maintenance machinists ($12.03, compared with $8.04).

Also where comparisons could be made, occupational averages in noncellulosic fiber plants were typically 6 to 16 percent higher in metropolitan areas than in nonmetropolitan areas and 20 to 30 percent higher in plants with 1,000 workers or more than in those employing fewer workers. Data resulting from similar comparisons for cellulosic fiber plants did not meet publication criteria.

All production and related workers covered by the survey were in establishments providing paid holidays and paid vacations. Ten to twelve holidays annually were typical as were 1 to 5 weeks of vacation pay, depending on years of service.

Various health and insurance plans were available to virtually all workers. With the exception of major medical coverage, employers typically paid the entire cost of these health plans and, where applicable, dependents were also included.

Retirement pension plans (in addition to Social Security) covered virtually all workers, while less than one-tenth of the workers were under plans limited to retirement severance pay. Employers typically paid the entire cost of these retirement plans.

A comprehensive bulletin on the study, Industry Wage Survey: Synthetic Fibers, September 1985, Bulletin 2268, may be purchased from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Publication Sales Center, P.O. Box 2145, Chicago, IL 60690, or the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The bulletin provides additional information on occupational pay, such as earnings distributions, and on the incidence of employee benefits in synthetic fibers manufacturing in the South.

1 The survey was limited to the South, where more than 95 percent of the workers in synthetic fibers manufacturing are employed. Wage data are straight-time hourly earnings, which exclude premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends, holidays, and late shifts. Incentive payments, such as those resulting from piecework or production bonus systems, and cost-of-living pay increases (but not bonuses) were included as part of the workers' regular pay. Excluded are performance bonuses and lump-sum payments of the type negotiated in the auto and aerospace industries, as well as profit-sharing payments, attendance bonuses, Christmas or yearend bonuses, and other nonproduction bonuses.

2 Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget through June 1983.

Table: 1. Number of workers and average hourly earnings in selected occupations in synthetic fibers manufacturing by principal product, Southern region, September 1985
COPYRIGHT 1987 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Feb 1, 1987
Previous Article:Occupational wages in textile manufacturing, June 1985.
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