Unions continued to show strong concern about foreign competition by moderating their demands in bargaining over wages and salaries in the first nine months of 1984. That trend is expected to continue for the rest of the year and into 1985.
Contracts negotiated through September for 1.4 million unionized workers averaged a relatively modest 2.5 percent wage increase in the first year of agreements - and an average increase of 2.8 percent a year over the full two- or three-year term of the contracts.
The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports the average first-year increase in expired contracts, most negotiated in 1981, was 8.6 percent.
This year's low first-year increase has resulted largely because of concessions by unions representing 420,000 construction workers and reduced wage demands by manufacturing unions more concerned with winning job security.
The 2.5 percent figure released by the BLS does not include recent contract settlements by the United Automobile Workers with General Motors and Ford.
General Motors and Ford workers received less than 2 percent in the first year (to $12.82 an hour), and lump-sum payments in 1985 and '86.
In 1985 major unions are likely to be influenced by the auto settlements with prospects for wage and salary increases within a 2.5 percent to 3 percent range in manufacturing industries and in construction.