ARLINGTON, Va., April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 27th annual Employer Bargaining Objectives report presents findings from a comprehensive Bloomberg BNA survey examining employers' goals and expectations for their 2012 round of bargaining with the unions that represent their workers.
The survey report details the bargaining ''wish list'' of employers on a wide range of bargaining issues, including compensation, health care, life insurance, retirement and pension benefits, paid leave, and job security provisions. The survey tracks employers' confidence about attaining their goals at the bargaining table, as well as the provisions contained in their expiring contracts.
The 2012 results are based on survey responses from 117 participating employers representing a wide range of industries and organizations throughout the United States.
As has been the case in recent years, employers are fairly brimming with confidence as they head into 2012 talks. Nine out of 10 of the employers surveyed are either fairly confident or highly confident of obtaining the goals they have set for their labor agreements, virtually the same level of overall confidence found by last year's survey (89 percent).
The backdrop to these confidence findings is an economy that is improving, but a recovery that has been relatively slow and modest thus far. Labor experts note that the recession and subsequent slow recovery have had a significant impact on collective bargaining talks. Unemployment has remained at comparatively high levels, with many private employers not only continuing to delay hiring decisions and expansion until the overall economic conditions become more settled, but also considering various initiatives to decrease the size of their permanent workforces.
Although the overriding concern over jobs undoubtedly will play a role in bargaining table negotiations, Bloomberg BNA's survey finds confident management representatives with a full list of bargaining goals as they head into 2012 talks.
Key findings from this year's survey are summarized below:
Gloomy outlooks continue to outpace rosy projections, but employers are slightly more upbeat about the financial outlook than they were a year ago.
Health care and wages again will predominate at the bargaining table in 2012, and remain the areas where employers are most likely to seek concessions from labor.
Negotiations over paid leave likely will be far less contentious.
Two-tier compensation systems could be on the wane, as employers appear to be backing off demands for two-tiered compensation systems.
At best, most employers will propose modest wage increases in their next contracts, and quite a few will bargain for no change in wage levels for bargaining-unit employees.
A significant minority of employers would consider withdrawing recognition if they doubted the majority status of the union.
The likelihood of hiring striker replacements is little changed from last year.
Employers will continue to push to shift health care costs to workers.
Employers do not expect major changes in the job security provisions contained in their current contracts.
Most employers expect to bargain contracts of three years in length.
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