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More steel settlements.

More steel settlements

The third settlement in the round of bargaining in the steel industry occurred when Bethlehem Steel Corp. and the United Steelworkers agreed on a 37-month contract for 30,000 employees. Reflecting the breakup of the major companies' united bargaining front and the union's recognition of the variations in the competitive problems facing the individual companies, Bethlehem's terms varied from the leadoff LTV Steel and National Steel accords (See Monthly Labor Review, June 1986, pp. 45-46.)

The Bethlehem contract, which the workers approved by a vote of 11,600 to 8,369, calls for a cut in compensation totaling $1.97 an hour. According to the union, this reduces average hourly labor costs to between $22.50 and $23. The wage portion of compensation was cut 8.1 percent, or an average of 98.6 cents an hour.

As at LTV Steel, the settlement provides for a plan under which employees' wage and benefit sacrifices will be repaid in cash or shares of a new issue of dividend-bearing stock. Retirees and employees will receive annual payments from an allocation equal to 10 percent of profits up to $100 million and 20 percent of any excess. If this is not enough to offset the employees' sacrifices, the balance will be in shares of the stock.

As in the earlier accords, the Bethlehem settlement establishes a gain-sharing approach permitting local unions and management to develop plans for distributing cash to employees based on one or more of the following:

* tons of steel shipped;

* work hours per ton;

* quality of product; and

* reductions in nonlabor costs attributable to employee efforts or initiative.

The plans may include inducements--such as improved early retirement benefits and severance payments--in exchange for negotiated reductions in the work force, but Bethlehem is not permitted to contract out any work that had been performed by departing employees.

Among the cost-reducing contract changes accepted by the union were suspension of the provision for automatic quarterly cost-of-living pay adjustments, elimination of three paid holidays, time and one-quarter premium pay for Sunday work instead of time and one-half, and exclusion of overtime, Sunday premium, and shift premiums from calculations of vacation pay (unlike LTV Steel, the duration of vacations was not reduced).
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Title Annotation:Bethlehem Steel Corp. collective labor agreement
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1986
Previous Article:Hospital employment under revised medicare payment schedules.
Next Article:Utility contracts.

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