Labor Relations

Labor Relations

In this lesson, you’re expected to learn about:
– labor management relations
– collective bargaining
– the key stakeholders in managing employee relations

The term labor relations, also known as industrial relations, refers to the system in which employers, workers and their representatives and, directly or indirectly, the government interact to set the ground rules for the governance of work relationships.

It also describes a field of study dedicated to examining such relationships. The field is an outgrowth of the industrial revolution, whose excesses led to the emergence of trade unionsto represent workers and to the development of collective labor relations.

A labor or industrial relations system reflects the interaction between the main actors in it:

– the state
– the employer (or employers or an employers’ association)
– trade unions and employees (who may participate or not in unions and other bodies affording workers’ representation)

The phrases “labor relations” and “industrial relations” are also used in connection with various forms of workers’ participation; they can also encompass individual employment relationships between an employer and a worker under a written or implied contract of employment, although these are usually referred to as “employment relations”.

There is considerable variation in the use of the terms, partly reflecting the evolving nature of the field over time and place.

There is general agreement, however, that the field embraces collective bargaining, various forms of workers’ participation (such as work councils and joint health and safety committees) and mechanisms for resolving collective and individual disputes.

The wide variety of labor relations systems throughout the world has meant that comparative studies and identification of types are accompanied by caveats about the limitations of over-generalization and false analogies.

[Optional] Labor Management Relations
What is Collective Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process of negotiating the terms of employment between an employer and a group of workers.

The terms of employment are likely to include items such as conditions of employment, working conditions and other workplace rules, base pay, overtime pay, work hours, shift length, work holidays, sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits, and health care benefits.

Collective Agreement

An employer may have an agreement with employees’ representatives (from trade unions or staff associations) that allows negotiations of terms and conditions like pay or working hours. This is called a collective agreement.

The terms of the agreement could include:
– how negotiations will be organized
– who will represent employees
– which employees are covered by the agreement
– which terms and conditions the agreement will cover

[Optional] Collective bargaining and labour relations
Key Stakeholders in Employee Relations

1) Employers 

Employers and human resource managers handle employee relations issues on a daily basis, including their involvement in developing programs that focus on improving organizational performance.

Many large-scale organizations will employ one or more employee relations specialists within their human resource management departments. Such specialists are particularly valuable, as the legal responsibilities of business in relation to employee relations matters have become more complex.

2) Employees

Employees today are, on average, more highly educated than in the past. They demand more challenging, interesting work, greater involvement in decision-making processes and autonomy at their workplace.

The increasing practice of negotiating employment agreements at the workplace level means that employees will be more closely engaged in the process of developing new or changed agreements. This may happen if they are required to negotiate individual employment conditions directly with the employer.

Alternatively, they may be called on to vote to approve a new agreement that has been negotiated on behalf of all employees in that workplace by a representative organization, such as a union (a collective agreement).

In either case, employers are likely to want improved productivity, or the achievement of specified objectives, in return for improved wages or conditions, so the process may involve employees having to modify existing work practices to achieve those objectives.

3) Trade / Labor Unions

A labor union is an organization intended to represent the collective interests of workers in negotiations with employers over wages, hours, benefits and working conditions.

Unions that have members employed by an organization will have a direct stake in the employee relations processes of that organization. They will often be called to represent their members in the development of new or changed employee agreements, with the aim of getting the best possible deal for the employees.

Working conditions are often determined for entire industries, rather than for individual organizations, and this provides unions with an official bargaining position in the making of industrial agreements.
Organized Labor

An association of workers united as a single, representative entity for the purpose of improving the workers’ economic status and working conditions through collective bargaining with employers. Also known as “unions”.

There are two types: the horizontal union, in which all members share a common skill, and the vertical union, composed of workers from across the same industry.

Forming a Union

The union formation process in most countries is regulated by a government agency, such as the National Labor Relations Board in the United States.

The group of employees wanting to form a union usually need a set amount of signatures – this amount is dependent on the jurisdiction it wants to form in. If enough signatures are obtained, there is a vote by all employees and if passed, the union will negotiate on their behalf with the employers.

Why Employees Join Unions

There are a number of reasons why employees choose to join a union such as:

1) Higher wages and benefits: the strength of large numbers and negotiating skills of professional bargainers give unions an advantage over individuals.

2) Greater job security: collective bargaining contracts limit management’s ability to arbitrarily hire, promote, or fire.

3) Influence over work rules: unions represent workers and define channels for complaints and concerns.

4) Employer Associations

Employer associations are organizations that represent and assist employer groups. They were originally created by employers in response to employee membership of unions – just as unions represent employees in particular trades or industries, employer organizations represent employers in those industries.

They are formal groups of employers set up to defend, represent or advise affiliated employers and to strengthen their position with respect to labor matters.

Conflict in Employee Relations

Even in the most positive employee relations environment, conflict between employers and employees can still occur. This conflict can be expressed as industrial action on the part of either the employers or the employees.

An industrial dispute refers to a withdrawal from work by a group of employees, or refusal by an employer or number of employers to permit some or all of their members to work.

Each withdrawal or refusal is made to enforce a demand, resist a demand or express a grievance.

Strike vs. Lockout

Withdrawal of labor by employees is known as strike action, while refusal by employers to allow employees to work is known as a lockout.

strike occurs when employees withdraw their labor for a period of time in pursuit of improvements in their employment conditions.

lockout occurs when employers close the workplace for a period of time as a means of applying pressure to employees during a period of industrial conflict.

[Optional] What Does a Labor Relations Specialist Do?
Jim Rohn Sứ mệnh khởi nghiệp