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Oil, coal settlements.

Oil, coal settlements

Developments in Industrial Relations

Possible interruptions in the Nation's energy supply were averted when the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) settled with petroleum refining and distributing companies, and the United Mine Workers settled with bituminous coal producers. The round of OCAW settlements, which followed the terms of a lead-off accord with American Oil, Co., did result in brief work stoppages over local issues at a few refineries, but the impact was minimal as management employees kept the highly automatic facilities in operation. In soft coal, there were union threats of work stoppages at a few companies that were not members of the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, the industry's bargaining leader, bu the stoppages were averted when the independent producers accepted the same terms as the Association. (Before the Mine Workers-Bituminious Coal Operators Association settlement, other independents had signed interim "me too" agreemen~s prohibitiong work stoppages by Mine Workers members and pledging the companies to accept the same terms as the Association.)

The American Oil-OCAW contract included a $900 lump-sum payment to employees upon ratification, a 308-cent-an-hour wage increase effective February 1, and a 3-percent increase in February 1989. Amoco also agreed to increase its financing of health insurance by $10 a month for family coverage in the first year and by $2 in the second year. The contract covered 4,000 workers.

The wages and benefit terms of the American Oil-OCAW settlement were expected to eventually apply to about 40,000 workers by 300 contracts with 60 companies. Among the first companies to settle on pattern contracts were Atlantic Richfield Co., Ashland Oil Inc., Shell Oil Co., Union Oil Co., and Conoco Inc.

The coal contract is effective for 5 years, compared with 40 months for the 1984 contract and the usual 3 years for earlier contracts. According to Mine Workers President Richard Trumka, the contract emphazsized job opportunities for union members, as there were about 30,000 members on layoffs and about 60,000 still working in the soft coal fields at the time of the settlement. The economic difficulties for Mine Workers members and their employers are generally attributed to plentiful supplies of moderate cost petroleum and to growing coal production in western ope pit mines, where employees are generally nonunion, or members of other unions.

Under the new job opportunity provisions, laid-off Mine Workers members gained

The right to the first three do every five jobs available at nonunion operations of companies that have other operations covered by the contract.

The right to all jobs in operations that their employer leases out to other companies.

The right to "panel" (apply their recall rights) at all of their employer's opinions. (Previously, laid-off workers could only panel the company's operations in the Mine Workers district in which the job was located or in one contiguous district.

New training and education programs financed by employer payments which the union expects to total $20 million over the contract term.

Economic provisions of the agreement included hourly wage increases of 25 cents on February 1, 1988, 35 cents on February 1, 1989, and 45 cents on February 1, 1990, bringing the top rate for an underground miner to $16,615 an hour, or $132,92 a day. The union also has the opinion to reopen bargaining on wages and pensions after the third and fourth contract years.

Pensions changes already adopted include increases for those who began drawing benefits prior to December 6, 1974; a $40 a month increase for normal retirees with 20 years' service. bringing their monthly benefits to $375; a $40 increse for disability retirees, bringing their monthly benefits to 217.50; and a $20 increase for surviving spouses, bringing their benefits to $125.

For those who began benefits after December 5, 1974, but prior to the February 1, 1989, effective data of the new contract -- under a separate plan providing for graduated benefit levels based on years of service and age at retirement -- the increases were a flat $30 a month for normal and disability retirees, and for surviving spouses was raised to 75 precent (formerly 50 percent) of the amount the retiree had been receiving.

All steps of the graduated formula for employees retiring on normal pension during the contract term also were increased. The new maximum is $32 a month for each year of service after February 1, 1990, for workers retiring at age 62. Previously, the maximum for age 62 retirees was $18.50 for each year of service in excess of 30.

Employees who retire during the first 2 years of the contract as a result of mine accidents will receive a monthly benefit of at least $190 and those who retire in the third year will receive at least $200. (They will receive a normal pension if it amounts to more than the $190 or $200 minimum.) The previous minimum was $170 a month. For surviving spouses, the benefit was raised to 75 percent (formerly 50 percent) of the deceased person's entitlement.

The accord also provided for a retirement savings plan under provision 401(K) of the Internal Revenue Code, allowing employees to invest up to 10 percent of their earnings, with taxes on the investment and any resulting gains deferred until the participant withdraws money from the fund. Other terms included a $1,000 increase in the death benefit to the beneficiary of deceased pensioners; a $20 increase in sickness and accident benefits, to $220 a week; a $5,000 increase in the employees' $30,000 life insurance coverage for natural death and a $10,000 increase in their 60,000 coverage from accidental death; and a $10 increase in the $170 annual clothing allowance.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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