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Glass container wage gains trail those in other glassware plants.

Glass container wage gains trail those in other glassware plants

A Bureau of Labor Statistics study of the pressed or blown glass and glassware industry in June 1986 found that wages in glass container manufacturing averaged $9.89 an hour -- a 29-percent increase over the $7.66 average reported in May 1981.(1) Average straight-time earnings of workers in other types of glassware plants (for example, those making tableware) rose 48 percent -- from $6.40 an hour to $9.47.(2) Because of smaller pay gains over the 6-year period, glass container workers saw their pay advantage over workers in the other glassware plants narrow from 20 percent in 1980 to 4 percent in 1986.(3)

(1)For an account of the 1980 study, see "Container plant workers win largest gains in glassware manufacturing," Monthly Labor Review, December 1981, pp. 54-55.

Earnings data 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 profits-sharing payments, attendance bonuses, Christmas of yearend bonuses, and other nonproduction bonuses.

(2)The wage and salary component of the Bureau's Employment Cost Index for durable goods manufacturing rose 40 percent between the second quarter for 1980 and June 1986.

(3)The gap narrowed in part because container employees gave up a 31-cent-per-hour scheduled increase in 1985 when their employers were experiencing financial problems. Still, even if one counts the 31 cents which was later restored by several companies in August 1986, the gap was less than half reported in 1980.

Between 1980 and 1986, glass containers have met with strong competition from metal cans and plastic bottles, contributing to 6 straight years of declining shipments of glass containers.(4) The industry has reacted, in part, through smaller wage settlements, closing marginal plants, and downsizing staff at the remaining locations. The Bureau's 1986 survey estimates that there were 91 glass container plants employing about 39,000 production workers -- an average plant size of 425 workers; the 1980 survey reported 104 plants with 54,500 production workers -- an average plant size of about 525 workers.(5) The sharp employment declines have more than offset lowered container output, substantially raising the industry's productivity (output per hour) to an average annual rate of 4.8 percent between 1980 and 1985 (the latest year available).(6)

(4)For a discussion of the rigid containers industries, see 1987 U.S. Industrial Outlook (International Trade Administration, 1987), ch. 6-1 through 6-6.

(5)A minimum size for survey establishments was 100 workers in both the 1980 and 1986 studies.

(6) See Productivity Measures for Selected Industries, 1958-85, Bulletin 2277 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1987), p. 139.

The narrowing pay gap affected a large majority of the production occupations covered in the 1980 and 1986 surveys. Table 1 presents average hourly earnings of surveyed jobs common to both industries. It shows that by 1986, little or no pay advantage was reported in glass container firms for batch mixers, mold polishers, final inspectors, selectors, pipfitters, assemblers, janitors, and material handling laborers. In fact, furnace operators had an 8-percent disadvantage relative to the same occupation in other glassware factories, whereas they had an 11-percent advantage in 1980. In contrast, forming-machine upkeepers and watchmen, respectively, the highest and lowest paying jobs studied for glass container workers, maintained a substantial pay advantage (36 percent) over the 6-year period.

In addition to similar pay levels, the glassware industries also shared a board mix of skill requirements which provided for substantial differences in pay between the highest and lowest paid occupational groups studied. For example, the top earners in glass container firms (forming-machine upkeepers at $13.43 an hour) averaged 58 percent more than the lowest paid (watchmen at $8.50 an hour). In other glassdware plants, the corresponding differential was even greater -- a 93-percent spread between hourly pay levels for maintenance machinists (812.09) and watchmen (86.25).

About nine-tenths of the workers in the two industries were paid time rates, usually under formal systems providing single rates for specified occupations. Forming-machine operators and upkeepers, two exceptions, were commonly paid on an incentive basis; in glass containers, they typically average 15 to 20 percent more in hourly earnings than their time-rated counterparts.

Nearly all establishments in the survey operated under labor-management contracts covering all or a majority of their production workers. The American Flint Glass Workers Union of North America (AFL-CIO) usually represented workers in the mold-making departments in both industries and other production workers in the pressed or blown glassware (expected containers) industry. The Glass, Pottery, Plastics, and Allied Workers International Union typically had contracts covering production workers outside the mold-making departments of glass container plants. Bargaining is generally conducted on a company-by-company basis.

Virtually all establishments in the 1986 survey provided paid holidays, usually 12 per year, and paid vacations, typically 1 to 6 weeks per year depending on years of service. Other widespread provisions for paid time off including sickness and accident insurance or sick leave, or both; funeral leave; and jury-duty leave. Retirement pension plans and various insurance plans -- including life, accidental death and dismemberment, hospitalization, surgical, basic and major medical and dental coverage -- also were available to a large majority of the workers. Employers typically paid the entire cost of these benefits.

For each of the two industries, separate reports for regions of industry concentration are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or any of its regional officers. A comprehensive report, Industry Wage Survey: Pressed or Blown Glass and Glassware, June 1986, Bulletin 2286, 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, by region and by size of establishment, and on the incidence of employee benefits, nationwide and by region.

TABLE: Table 1. Average hourly earnings(1) in glass container and other pressed or blown glassware manufacturing, selected occupations, June 1986 and May 1980
 TABLE: June May 1980
 TABLE: Con- Con-
 TABLE: tainers tainers
 TABLE: Department and Other as Other as
 TABLE: occupation Glass glass- percent Glass glass- percent
 TABLE: con- ware of other con- ware of other
 TABLE: tainers industry glass- tainers industry glass-
 TABLE: ware ware
 TABLE: average average


(1)Earnings data excluded premium paid 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, as well as profit-sharing payments, attendance bonuses, Christmas or yearend bonuses, and other non-production bonuses.
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Mar 1, 1988
Words:1158
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