Workers for two financially troubled companies have agreed to accepot, at least temporarily, substantial cuts in wages and benefits to keep plants open and workers in jobs.
These and a few other similar instances do not, however, represent a strong labor trend. Major unions and their members remain firmly committed against "give backs" of gains won in hard bargaining.
According to announcements over the past week:
* The United Rubber Workers, representing 6,000 Uniroyal Inc. employees, agreed to a 12.9 percent pay reduction in 1980 and a further 6.5 percent cut in 1981 to save the company an estimated $27 million a year as part of a $50 million cost-reduction program instituted by Uniroyal to kep plants open.
* Employees of Dayton Press Inc. in Dayton, Ohio, voted to accept a temporary 10 percent wage reduction (up to $1.25 an hour for a $12.50 employee) plus additional cuts in benefits while negotiations are under way for 2,500 employees to buy the printer for $135 million. The wage and benefits cuts will save $15 million a year.
Earlier, the Chrysler Corporation asked for and won concessions from the United Auto Workers, and other companies have succeeded more quietly in getting similar cost- cutting agreements from unions.
But, basically, organized labor's policy is that wages and benefits can go up -- but not down. The principle is that what you get, you keep. This way a key issue in the recent public employee strike threat in New York City, and it is a frequent strike issue elsewhere.
Despite today's high unemployment and worries about jobs, bargaining settlements are running even higher than last year.