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Westinghouse's settlement deviates from pattern.

Westinghouse's settlement deviates from pattern

Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a coalition of seven unions negotiated 3-year contracts that were notable for deviating somewhat from the terms that General Electric Co. negotiated earlier in 1988 with some of the same unions and others. (See Monthly Labor Review, September 1988, p. 46.) In the past, Westinghouse accords had been essentially identical to those at General Electric. Throughout the 5 weeks of the 1988 negotiations at Westinghouse, the company had asserted that General Electric settlements should no longer be viewed as pattern setters because the two companies compete in different product lines and markets. Although terms of the contracts varied, the Electronic Workers, one of the lead unions bargaining with both companies, described the total cost of the accords as "roughly equivalent."

One of the variations was in the area of wages: the Westinghouse contracts provide for 3 -percent wage increases in August of 1988 and 1989, and lump-sum payments in September 1988 and September 1989 equal to 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of the employee's hourly pay rate multiplied by 2,080 (the number of hours the employee was expected to work during the following 12 months), with both payments subject to increase if actual hours worked exceed 2,080. The Electronic Workers estimated that these payments would average $1,566 in 1988 and $792 in 1989.

The General Electric contract provided for three wage increases: 2.5, 1.5, and 1.5 percent in June of 1988, 1989, and 1990, respectively, and lump-sum payments of $165 in June 1988 and $900 in June 1989.

Both settlements provide for five possible semiannual cost-of-living adjustments calculated at I cent an hour for each 0.15-percent increase in the BLS Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

A change unique to the Westinghouse settlement is a successor clause permitting the company to sell operations only if the new owner agrees to recognize the existing union and provide comparable wages and benefits.

At both companies, minimum monthly pension rates were increased to an $18-$25 range, varying by average annual pretirement earnings. At Westinghouse, average earnings are based on the 3 years of highest earnings during the last 10 years of employment. Previously, the figure was calculated on the 3 years of highest earnings during the employee's career, the formula that was continued in the General Electric accord. The two companies also differed in the alternate pension formulas that apply if the resulting benefit amount exceeds the minimum pension. At Westinghouse, the new monthly benefit is calculated at 1.3 percent (formerly 1.75 percent) of average annual career earnings under $14,700 plus 2.4 percent (formerly 2.2 percent) of the balance. The employee's share of pension financing at Westinghouse was reduced to 2.75 percent, from 3 percent, of each year's earnings above $14,700.

At General Electric, the alternate monthly pension is now calculated at 1.45 percent of average annual career earnings up to "covered compensation" (the annual average of the contribution and benefit bases under Social Security for the 35 years ending with the year in which an employee attains age 65) plus 1.9 percent of earnings above covered compensation. Previously, the formula was 1.3 percent of the first $14,000 of average annual career earnings plus 2.4 percent of the balance. Also, the employees' 3.0-percent contribution to their pensions now applies to annual earnings in excess of $25,000 (formerly $14,000), and the contribution is placed in a personal pension account receivable at retirement.

The settlements at the two companies also differed in provisions for early retirement, job and income security, and insurance benefits.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Dec 1, 1988
Previous Article:Work-time reduction in the U.S. and Western Europe.
Next Article:United Paperworkers end 16-month work stoppage.

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