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Public-sector unions prepare for some heavy bargaining in '85

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A relatively light bargaining year for private-industry workers, a relatively heavy one for public-sector employees. This is how 1985 appears to be shaping up for organized labor.

More than 1 million state and municipal government employees will be involved in contract negotiations in 1985. This represents slightly more than half of those covered nationally by labor agreements in the public sector.

Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, says locals of the union are ''poised for aggressive bargaining.'' So are local governments with budget and tax problems.

In industry, trucking contracts covering more than 100,000 drivers and helpers must be renegotiated by the industry and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, led by Jackie Presser. The negotiations, expected to be at their heaviest in March, will be complicated by the split-up of the industry into two groups of employers: those engaging in coordinated bargaining and an increasing number of independent employers who will seek their own contract.

Other major industrial talks during the year include men's and women's apparel, rubber, electrical products, and automobile manufacturing, particularly involving the Chrysler Corporation and the United Automobile Workers in a holdover from the big auto bargaining of 1984.

Hundreds of thousands of construction workers in a dozen or more unions will be involved in widely scattered local negotations. Robert Georgine, head of AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, says he looks for another difficult year for negotiators. This comes largely as the result of economic conditions and high unemployment among building tradesmen.


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