Are unions casting contract moderation to the wind?
Unions settled for less in talks during the first nine months of '82. Major agreements reached through September boosted wages an average 3.8 percent in the first year of the new contracts. That's less than half the 8.3 percent average in settlements reached by the same unions two or three years ago. At 3.8 percent , pay increases in new contracts failed to keep up with inflation - 4.8 percent for the first nine months of this year. Increases for 2.7 million workers average 3.5 percent over the full terms of new contracts, compared with 6.4 percent in the last round of talks. The low '82 average reflected the wage freezes in auto and trucking contracts early this year and a dip in building-trade settlements.
There are signs that the price for new contracts will rise. Moderation appears to be out in union talks with Chrysler, in the farm and roadbuilding equipment industry, and in other industries.