CLRC Issues Reports on Costs of CBA Terms and Conditions and on Labor Rate Trends and Outlook
The cost of construction-industry collective bargaining agreement (CBA) terms and conditions as a percentage of wages and fringes was unchanged in 2008 at 6.4 percent, according to the Construction Labor Research Council's (CLRC) latest Cost of Terms and Conditions in Collective Bargaining Agreements report. The dollar cost of these items increased, as the cost of many contract terms is directly related to wage rates, which increased.
Costs vary significantly across individual CBAs, from 4 to 10 percent, with a few even higher, and most dollar costs falling between $1.50 and $4.00. Regional variation is moderate, CLRC reported, but craft variation is significant. "The all-crafts average is reduced because Carpenters and Laborers, the crafts with the greatest number of workers, have among the lowest prevalence of most of the items adding to contract costs," noted CLRC.
The largest portion of costs is attributable to overtime payments, CLRC found, with an average cost of $1.29. Other items with relatively high costs include show-up pay and time paid but not worked (e.g., coffee breaks, clean-up time).
CLRC also recently released its latest Construction Labor Rate Trends and Outlook report. Wage and fringe rates set in CBAs negotiated in 2008 or earlier will rise 4.4 percent per year in 2009 and in 2010, as they did in 2008. This equates to a dollar amount of $2.13 in 2009 and $2.27 in 2010.
"Before this period of stability," CLRC reported, "rates of increase had been moving upward." Longer-term trends in escalation have not changed much, however. For the five-year period ending January 1, 2009, wage and fringe rates increased 22.9 percent, or just over 4 percent per year. Differences between regions and between crafts have narrowed, CLRC said. The average wage-plus-fringe rate for all construction crafts is now $46.65.
Bargaining activity will be heavier than usual this year, as the number of contracts due to expire in 2009 is higher than in most recent years, according to CLRC. Negotiations are expected to cover about 375,000 workers this year. Bargaining will be spread throughout the country but will be lightest in the western regions. CLRC is expected to release its first report on year-to-date settlements for 2009 in mid-June. AGC will send the report to the AGC Union Contractors e-Forum when released. To join the Union Contractors e-Forum, send a request including your complete contact information to Crystal Yates at email@example.com.
Many CLRC reports, including a report on 2008 settlements, are also posted on the Labor & HR Topical Resources page of AGC's Web site at www.agc.org/labor/topicalresources. Select the category "Collective Bargaining" from the first pull-down menu and the subcategory "Collective Bargaining Agreement Data" from the second. The AGC Web site also features a searchable database of collectively bargained wage and fringe rates at www.agc.org/cbrates.
Chapters bargaining this year are reminded to send settlement information to CLRC promptly upon settlement of negotiations. Information can be sent by fax to (202) 347-8442, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to 1750 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006.
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