The 1982 Union Wage Concessions: A Turning Point in Collective Bargaining?

by Daniel Mitchell



Arguments that 1982 marked a turning point in union wage determination are overstated. While dramatic wage and other concessions were made during the 1982 collective-bargaining round-wage freezes were the most common type of concession, but absolute cuts were made in some wage levels-cuts and freezes touched only a small proportion of the contracts negotiated, and concession contracts themselves preserved the principles of multiyear duration and cost-of-living escalation. Some of the income security arrangements conceded by management in exchange for wage cuts or freezes will endure, and gain sharing could become a significant factor in wage determination if it is continued and becomes more widespread.

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