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Wages and benefits in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills.

Wages and benefits in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, straight-time earnings of production and related workers in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills averaged $12.92 an hour in September 1987.(1) This was one of the highest averages among manufacturing industries included in the Bureau's industry wage survey program.(2) Pay levels, however, varied by type of establishment, averaging $14.38 in pulp mills, $13.30 in paperboard mills, and $12.72 in paper mills.

Contributing to these wage levels were such factors as the concentration of highly skilled workers from the machine rooms and maintenance departments, where occupational earnings frequently topped $13 an hour, and the prevalence of labor-management agreements, which covered more than nine-tenths of the industries' production workers. The United Paperworkers International Union (AFL-CIO) was the predominant union, except in the Pacific States, where most workers were covered by agreements with the independent Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers.

Average hourly pay in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills in September 1987 was 26 percent higher than the $10.22 reported by a similar survey conducted in July 1982.(3) This increase, averaging 4.6 percent annually,(4) compares with a 25-percent rise (4.3 percent a year) in wages and salaries for all nondurable goods manufacturing industries between June 1982 and September 1987, according to the Bureau's Employment Cost Index.

In contrast to rising wages, production worker employment in the three industries fell by 7 percent (1.4 percent annually) between the two surveys, from 150,200 workers in July 1982 to 139,777 in September 1987.

Among six regions for which data could be presented, average hourly earnings ranged from $14.49 in the Pacific States to $11.12 in the Middle Atlantic region. In the Southeast region, where three-tenths of the production workers were employed, hourly earnings averaged $13.52.

Nearly three-fifths of the production workers covered by the survey were in nonmetropolitan areas, where occupational pay averages were generally higher than in metropolitan areas.(5) Regionally, the proportion of workers in nonmetropolitan areas ranged from seven-tenths in New England to three-tenths in the Middle Atlantic region.

Fifty-two occupations, accounting for almost one-half of the production work force, were selected to represent the wage structure and manufacturing activities in the three industries. General maintenance mechanics, who perform the work of two or more maintenance trades rather than specializing in one trade or one type of maintenance work, constituted the largest and highest paid occupation studied separately; the 9,555 workers in the job averaged $16.50 an hour. Other skilled maintenance occupations, including electricians, machinists, millwrights, and pipefitters, had pay averages of at least $14.73 an hour. At the other end of the wage distribution were the 1,166 janitors, who averaged $10.38 an hour. In the machine room, where paper is manufactured, average hourly earnings ranged from $15.29 for paper-machine tenders to $11.97 for fifth hands, who assist in removing finished paper rolls from paper machines.

Two jobs--guards and truckdrivers--were surveyed for the first time by BLS in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills. Their average hourly earnings were $11.22 and $11.40, respectively.

In September 1987, nine-tenths of the production workers were paid time rates, under formal plans providing single rates for specific job categories. Many mills had several job categories, each with its own pay scale, falling within one BLS occupational definition. Some of the pay determinants were the type of pulpmaking process, grade of paper or paperboard manufactured, and size of machine used to make paper and paperboard. For example, hourly earnings in the pulpmaking department usually were higher for workers using the sulphate process rather than the sulphite process, pay generally averaged 25 to 50 percent higher for workers producing newsprint and groundwood paper than for those producing boxboard, and pay levels were progressively higher as the width of the papermaking machinery used increased from 100 inches or less to 301 inches or more.(6)

Seven-tenths of the production workers were assigned to rotating shifts. Employees alternated between day, evening, and night shifts, typically changing shifts every 7 days. While assigned to evening and night shifts, workers almost always received cents-per-hour differentials over fixed day-shift rates, most commonly between 10 and 20 cents on evening shifts and between 20 and 40 cents on night shifts.

Work schedules of 40 hours per week were predominant in the industries, covering almost half of the production workers. Workweeks of 42 hours covered two-fifths, and 48-hour workweeks one-tenth, of the workers. Workweeks longer than 42 hours were most common in the Middle Atlantic region, where two-fifths of the workers were in mills scheduling 48-hour workweeks.

Virtually all of the mills provided paid holidays to their production workers. Over three-fourths of the workers received between 11 and 13 paid holidays. The most liberal holiday provisions were reported in the Pacific region, where three-fourths of the workers received 14 or 15 days.

All production workers covered by the survey were in mills that provided paid vacations. Typically, provisions were 1 week after 1 year of service, 2 weeks after 3 years, 3 weeks after 8 years, 4 weeks after 15 years, 5 weeks after 20 years, and 6 weeks or more after 25 years.

Virtually all production workers were in establishments providing life, hospitalization, surgical, basic, and major medical insurance and retirement pension plans. In addition, over nine-tenths of the workers were offered sickness and accident insurance, four-fifths were offered dental insurance, and about one-fourth were offered vision care. Most of the life insurance and pension plans were financed entirely by the employer. Health maintenance organization (HMO) membership was available to about three-tenths of the workers nationwide.

The use of temporary help and the contracting out of various services also were studied during the current survey. Slightly more than one-third of the production workers were in mills regularly using temporary help services in lieu of new hires. The number of production workers in mills contracting out various services to outside firms varied by the type of service contracted out. Trucking was, by far, the activity most commonly contracted out: mills employing slightly more than seven-tenths of the production workers used contract truckers. More than half of the production workers were in mills that contracted out machine maintenance, while more than two-fifths each were in mills that used janitorial and engineering/drafting services.

A comprehensive bulletin, Industry Wage Survey: Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills, September 1987, Bulletin 2324, may be purchased from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Publications 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 and employee benefits. FOOTNOTES (1)Earnings data exclude premium pay for overtime and for work on weekends, holidays, and late shifts. Cost-of-living pay increases (but not bonuses) were included as part of the workers' pay. Excluded were 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.

The Bureau's survey included establishments employing 100 workers or more and primarily engaged in manufacturing (1) pulp from wood or other materials such as rags, linters, wastepaper, or straw; (2) paper (except building paper) from woodpulp and other fibers; and (3) paperboard, including paperboard coated on the paperboard machine, from woodpulp and other fibers. Logging camps operated by pulp mills and not separately reported were also included. Excluded were paper mills that primarily manufacture building paper, which is used as an interlining in construction. (2)Of 20 manufacturing industries studied regularly, including durable goods industries, paper and allied products ranked sixth in September 1987, according to data from the Bureau's monthly employment and earnings series. Other industries in the program with higher average hourly earnings were petroleum and coal products, tobacco manufactures, transportation equipment, chemicals and allied products, and primary metals. (3)For an account of the earlier survey, see Industry Wage Survey: Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills, July 1982, BLS Bulletin 2180 (1983). The 1982 average is not strictly comparable with the 1987 level, because the latter includes earnings from converted paper products departments of paper and paperboard mills. After adjusting for this difference, the earnings increase over the 5 years was 28 percent. (4)Or 4.8 percent by the adjustment in the previous footnote. (5)Metropolitan Statistical Areas, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget through October 1984. (6)For purposes of the study, machine widths were grouped into five categories: 100 inches or less; 101 inches-150 inches; 151 inches-200 inches; 201 inches-300 inches; and 301 inches or more.
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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