2021 Collective Bargaining Normalizes Increases Back to 2019 Levels

Construction-industry collective bargaining negotiations completed in 2021 resulted in an average first-year increase in wages and fringe benefits of 3.0 percent or $1.74, according to the annual year-end Settlements Report recently released by the AGC-supported Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC). These results are essentially the same as reported in 2019, when the first-year increase was 3.0 percent or $1.73. Last year’s slight drop in the size of negotiated first-year increases – measuring at 2.9 percent or $1.66 – was the first dip seen in a decade.


“Based on already known negotiated increases, past trends and other relevant factors, CLRC projects a continuation of the slow but steady increase trend in the size of union total package rates as a percentage,” the report says. “Principal factors in union pay rates continue to include COVID-19, union craft labor shortages, higher construction costs and the ever-present challenges to union market share.”


Although the national average was the same in 2019 and 2021, the mode shifted to a lower range. CLRC reports that the most common range for settlements in 2019 was 3.1-3.5 percent, while it was 2.6-3.0 percent in 2021. The percentage of increases in most other ranges was somewhat consistent across years, but there was a trend toward fewer large (5.1 percent or higher) increases from 2019 to 2021.


Regionally, the highest average first-year increase by both percentage and dollar value came from the Northwest Region (AK, ID, OR, and WA) at 4 percent or $2.53. The lowest came from the South Central Region (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX) at 2.0 percent or $0.81.   


The craft that negotiated the highest average first-year increase in 2021 was the Glaziers at 3.4 percent or $2.13. The Iron Workers negotiated the lowest by percentage at 2.3 percent, while the Insulators and Plasterers negotiated the lowest by dollar value at $1.25 each.


The full report is accessible to AGC members and chapter staff from AGC’s online Labor & HR Topical Resources library under the main category “Collective Bargaining” and subcategory “Collective Bargaining Agreements Data.”  You must be logged in as an AGC member to access the material.


Collective bargaining chapters are reminded to please send new contract data directly to CLRC promptly upon settlement of collective bargaining negotiations. Chapters and members are also reminded that CLRC consulting and custom research services on local matters at a discount to AGC affiliates. This includes market share analysis, union/nonunion wage and fringe benefit comparisons, collective bargaining agreement language cost analysis, workforce/labor analysist and projections, and more.

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