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Women's apparel contract.

Twelve locals of the Intemational Ladies' Garment Workers Union and 47 employer associations negotiated to replace agreements covering some 100,000 workers in the women's apparel industry. The employer associations represented about 2,000 companies in the Northeast engaged in the design, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of women's apparel (dresses, sportswear, blouses, suits, coats, belts, rainwear, and other women's outerwear).

The locals bargained separately with the employer associations, but were guided by common negotiating goals established by the national union's executive board. Union proposals focused on wages; increases in employer contributions to the jointly administered health benefit funds; enhancements in the health and safety area, including the introduction of ergonomically designed work areas; skills training and education; and funding for child care.

The first settlements in the 1991 bargaining round involved nine employer associations in the dress, coat, suit, and rain wear industry in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Terms of the 3-year agreements, covering some 35,000 workers, call for wage increases of 4 percent in each year of the contracts. (The current average hourly wage, based on piece work, reportedly is $7.75.) In addition, combined employer contributions to the health and welfare fund (which pay for medical coverage and a prescription drug plan) were increased by 1.5 percent of payroll in the first year and 0.5 percent in the second and third years. (Previously, employer payments to the part of the fund that provided for medical coverage reportedly averaged 12.9 percent of payroll, and employer contributions to the part of the fund that provides for prescription drugs averaged 2.375 percent of payroll.)

Other terms include the establishment of employer payments to a labor-management program to enhance the strength of the domestic apparel industry"; the expansion of parental leave to include time off to care for seriously ill family members; two 15-minute breaks per day for employees working on video display terminals; the establishment of 1 week's pay for employees on jury duty; guaranteed placement for employees upon their return from active military duty; retention of the 35hour workweek (management had proposed a 40-hour week); and establishment of a procedure for dealing with the effect of new technology on employees and for providing severance pay to workers displaced because of technological change or business reorganization.

Later, agreements were reached between the union and several additional employer associations representing employers in the women's blouse and sportswear industry in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The 3-year contracts covered some 55,000 workers and followed the pattern set by the earlier agreements.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Cimini, Michael H.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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