The Decline of Collective Bargaining on General Wage Increases

by Benson Soffer



During the past decade, certain developments in wage bargaining have brought a substantial reduction in the incidence of strikes and in the number of decisions on negotiated general wage increases in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1957 set record lows for the post-war period for workers involved in stoppages, per cent of total employed and per cent of working time affected by stoppages and the number of man-days idle. But of particular concern, here is the reduction of the number of decisions on negotiated general wage increases which has accompanied these developments. This decline of bargaining on wage increases is not generally recognized because observers often fail to distinguish between genuine decision-making over the bargaining table and mere formality. Three trends have served to reduce the number of wage decisions. First, the centralization of decision-making. Second, the longer-term wage contract. Third, the elaboration and extension of pattern bargaining.

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