A number of key labor unions negotiating new contracts next year will respond to worsening economic conditions by stressing job security at least as much as pay increases, some labor experts say.
In some cases, they said, union workers such as truck drivers, auto workers, and others would probably even be willing to yield some present benefits just to keep their jobs.
Labor analysts said this significant shift was triggered by the current downturn, and they expected that the change of emphasis would help President Reagan in his effort to curb rising costs and fight inflation.
A new cycle of labor contracts begins every three years as old pacts expire and talks on new ones open.
The Teamsters Union, which represents the trucking industry, and the United Automobile Workers union often set the bargaining pattern for smaller industries and thus do much to shape the country's economy for the next few years.