bargaining tableThe release of the 27th annual Bloomberg BNA Employer Bargaining Objectives survey has given details into the employer wish list for bargaining issues such as employee compensation, healthcare, life insurance, retirement benefits, and paid leave. The report also revealed that employers have generally high confidence in attaining their goals with the renewals of their expiring labor contracts. In fact, 90 percent of surveyed employees reported that they are fairly confident to highly confident that their labor agreement goals will be met in the coming union talks.

No doubt bolstering this confidence is the consistently improving economy, though the gradual nature of the recovery and post-recession hiring fears continue to impact overall business expansion. Indeed, many employers remain indecisive at best about going ahead with new rounds of hiring. And some have made final decisions to hold off hiring until the economy has become more settled or have considered initiatives to shrink the sizes of their workforce, permanently.

While survey participants reported a slight increase in confidence regarding financials over 2011, overall outlooks remain rather gloomy. The primary issues expected to be addressed at the bargaining table this year are wages and healthcare where employers are expected to seek the majority of concessions from labor unions. Paid leave seems to be of less concern entering labor talks over last year.

Most employers seem poised to propose only modest wage increases while some will bargain for no change. A lively minority of employers are also of the mood to consider withdrawing labor recognition if the majority status of the union within their workforce is doubted. Employers continue to remain keen in pushing the increased costs of healthcare to their workers.

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