What Do Employees Who Work in Labor Relations Do?

Labor Relations Employees Job Description and Expectations

Building effective labor relations is the goal.
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Question: What Do Employees Who Work in Labor Relations Do?


Labor relations staff members deal almost exclusively with unionized workplaces, so an individual who thrives in an environment that requires constant efforts to reach agreement and compromise might consider labor and industrial relations. The director of industrial relations or labor relations:

  • Develops and implements labor policy.
  • Oversees the management of and, in a smaller company, handles industrial labor relations.
  • Negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the union.
  • Manages grievance procedures to handle complaints that result from disputes with unionized employees over the collective bargaining agreement, work rules, and interpretation of the meaning of the contract.
  • Advises and works with Human Resources staff and other managers of unionized employees to ensure compliance with the contract.
  • Oversees and manages the work of members of the Labor Relations staff.
  • Consults with Human Resources, managers, and executive management to get input into aspects of personnel policy such as wages, benefits, pensions, and work rules and practices that may be negotiation points in developing a new or revised union contract.

Labor relations managers and their staffs implement industrial labor relations programs and oversee compliance with the union negotiated contract.

When a collective bargaining agreement is up for negotiation, labor relations staff prepare information and make recommendations for management to use during union negotiations.

This consultative role requires that Labor Relations staff have up-to-date information about the economy and market rate pay.

They must be familiar with current trends in collective bargaining agreements and competitive benefits and work rules. They need to have extensive knowledge of labor laws and approaches.

The labor relations staff researches, develops, interprets and administers the union contract regarding wages, benefits, employee working conditions, health care, pensions, union and management practices, grievances, and other contractual provisions.

Career Prospects in Labor Relations

Union membership is declining in most industries other than the public sector, so industrial relations staff members are working more with employees who are not members of a labor union. State governments are going after collective bargaining agreements of public sector labor forces because of the cost and unwieldiness of the agreements. Labor relations specialists may see more limited employment opportunities in the future as a result of these trends.

Think about obtaining a more broadly-based college degree and experience, in general, Human Resources instead of concentrating in Labor Relations. Courses in business, Human Resources, management, and psychology are recommended. You will be more employable with expertise in a broader range of needed HR expertise.

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