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Developments in industrial relations.

Developments in Industrial Relations

Comparable worth settlements

After suffering some reverses in the last year, backers of the comparable worth concept of pay equity were heartened by a settlement concluding the 5-year controversy between the State of Washington and several unions. Under the out-of-court settlement, nearly 35,000 State workers in predominantly female occupations will receive pay adjustments over a 6-year period to bring them to parity with other State workers in jobs requiring comparable levels of responsibility, skill, and training. In general, backers of the comparable worth concept contend that some workers are underpaid simply because they are in "women's occupations,' such as secretaries, librarians, and nurses.

The events leading to the settlement began in 1981 when nine female employees filed suit against the State, contending that a study sponsored by the State showed pay discrimination against women. In 1983, a Federal district judge found the State guilty of pay discrimination under the Federal Civil Rights Act and ordered it to retroactively correct the disparity. In September 1985, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, but the State legislature had already appropriated $41.6 million to finance a settlement to be negotiated with the State, County, and Municipal Employees and other unions representing State employees.

The accord, which will require additional appropriations to cover the $106.5 million total cost, provides for the worth of jobs to be measured in terms of skill, effort, training, education, responsibility, and working conditions. During the first 15 months, $46.5 million will be available for pay adjustments, followed by $10 million allocations on July 1 of 1987 through 1992. The settlement does not provide for retroactivity of the pay adjustments. The 35,000 employees will also receive the same general wage increases the unions negotiate for other employees in their bargaining units during the 6-year period.

Pay equity adjustments also were a feature of an initial contract between the State, County, and Municipal Employees and the city of Chicago for 7,500 white-collar employees. Under the 3-year contract, all employees will receive wage increases totaling about 13 percent. In addition, 3,500 employees in 79 predominantly female job classifications will receive an additional 5 percent, which will be accomplished by raising these workers by one pay grade. According to the parties, 86 percent of the workers scheduled for upgrading are women.

In return for the upgrading, the union agreed to drop sex discrimination charges it had filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the city in 1982.

The parties also established a joint job evaluation committee to study the city's pay system and recommend changes, if necessary.

In another area, the parties moved to end political favoritism by adopting criteria to be used in selecting workers for jobs and promotions.

State, County, and Municipal Employees' President Gerald W. McEntee hailed the accord as a "demonstration of the nationwide momentum on pay equity,' despite the Appeals Court ruling in the Washington State case. McEntee said that during 1985, the union's "blueprint for equality' program had resulted in pay adjustments of $12 million for 4,000 clericals and librarians in Los Angeles; $20 million for 6,000 workers in the Iowa State government; $40 million for 9,000 employees of the State of Minnesota; $9.1 million for 10,000 employees of the State of Wisconsin; $5.6 million for 9,000 employees of the State of Connecticut; and $36 million to be used for adjusting the pay of thousands of employees of the State of New York.

In another pay equity agreement, the Auto Workers' initial contracts with the State of Michigan included special adjustments (20 cents an hour retroactive to October 1, 1985, and 20 cents effective October 1, 1986) for 70 percent of the 21,000 employees in the two bargaining units. The union said the special pay adjustments were intended to "achieve a greater degree of pay equity between traditionally "female' State jobs and other jobs.'

Terms for all employees included a 5-percent general pay increase effective October 1, 1986; a provision for reopening bargaining on a possible increase in October 1987; reduced employee premium costs for health insurance; and a joint review of workloads and caseloads.

The Auto Workers gained the right to represent the Human Services and Administrative Support units by defeating the incumbent Michigan State Employees Association in 1985 elections.

RCA offers retirement inducement

Pay increases totaling 5.5 percent, lump-sum payments, and a retirement inducement were featured in settlements between RCA Corp. and the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Electronic Workers. The separate but coordinated bargaining by the two unions covered 14,500 workers at 12 electrical products plants.

The first cash payment, payable immediately, was equal to 3 percent of employee earnings from November 1, 1984, through October 31, 1985. Instead of continuing the provision for automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments in hourly pay based on the movement of the Consumer Price Index, employees will receive lump-sum payments of $225 on June 2, 1986, $500 on June 1, 1987, and $525 on June 6, 1988.

Hourly pay rates will increase by 3 percent on December 1, 1986, and 2.5 percent on December 7, 1987. Workers in the upper pay grades will also receive an additional 5 to 20 cents and 5 to 15 cents an hour on the respective dates.

Pay progression was extended, with new employees starting at 80 percent of the standard rate for their job and receiving 5 percentage point increases every 6 months until they attain the standard rate.

The retirement inducement, limited to workers leaving the company between January 1 and July 1 of 1986, is $5,000. It is available to employees with 30 years of service or whose age plus years of service total 85.

Other terms include a two-step increase in the pension rate to $16 a month (from $14) for each year of credited service; three $100 credits to employees under a stock purchase plan; and some changes to help restrain the rise in health insurance costs.

Grocery workers accept concessions

Following the lead of a June 1985 settlement with major St. Louis grocery store chains, United Food and Commercial Workers locals 219 and 35 and three chains in nearby Illinois agreed on cuts in pay and benefits to aid the companies in competing with nonunion stores.

The Illinois agreement cut the top rate for clerks to $10.80 an hour, from $11.15, effective immediately, and to $10.50 in November 1986. Workers below the top rate will have their rates frozen for the term of the contract, which expires on November 26, 1988. To some extent, the pay cut and freeze will be offset by bonuses totaling $1,000 to $1,200, depending on the number of hours an employee works. Half of the bonus will be distributed in 1986 and the balance in 1987 and 1988.

The contract also provided for:

A top rate of $6.50 an hour for employees who work less than 30 hours a week. Previously there was no pay cap for these employees.

For workers hired after the effective date of the contract, Sunday work premium pay of $1 an hour during their first year and $2 an hour thereafter. Current employees will continue to receive time and one-half pay for work on Sunday.

A 9-cent reduction, to 76 cents an hour, in the employers' payment to the health and welfare trust fund. Benefits financed by the fund were not reduced.

Elimination of a sixth week of paid vacation after 25 years of service. Currently eligible workers will continue to receive 6 weeks.

Elimination of one personal paid holiday and four paid sick leave days beginning January 1, 1986.

Reduced employer financing of health and welfare and pension benefits for new employees.

A guarantee that 50 percent of scheduled work hours will be given to employees who normally work 40 hours a week and 10 percent to those who normally work at least 30 hours a week. The union said these requirements will help counter a trend toward increasing use of part-time workers, to the detriment of full-time workers.

The three chains covered by the settlement are the Kroger Co., National Supermarkets, and Schnuck Markets.

Alaska construction workers agree to a pay cut

Concern about the possibility of losing work to nonunion construction firms impelled unions in Alaska's petroleum producing area to agree to a 20-percent pay cut during the first year of their new 2-year agreement with the North Slope Contractors Association. Pay rates for the second year will be negotiated under a mid-term contract reopening provision.

The deciding factor in the unions' decision apparently was the oil companies 1985 announcement that bidding for projects would be opened to both union and nonunion contractors. Traditionally, most of the construction on the North Slope has been performed by unionized firms.

A union official said that the pay cut was not popular with union members, but it must be viewed in relation to the still-substantial earnings opportunity resulting from company-financed rooms, meals, and transportation, and a usual 70-hour work week.

Among the affected crafts, pay rates for plumbers and welders dropped to $20.94 an hour, from $26.17, and laborers dropped to $16.27, from $20.34. Employer payments for benefits remained at $6.10 an hour for the plumbers and welders and $6.45 for the laborers.

Other terms include a 40-hour work week guarantee; a limit of time and one-half pay for all work in excess of 8 hours per day; regular pay rates for work on second or third shifts, if such shifts are established; and a cut in the number of paid travel hours from the Fairbanks dispatch point.
COPYRIGHT 1986 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Title Annotation:labor dispute settlements
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Mar 1, 1986
Previous Article:International experiences with technological change.
Next Article:Beyond mechanization.

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