Labor Relations

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Management 3500 – Exam One Notes

The Elements of Industrial Relations

I. Basic Premise of Industrial Relations

Industrial relations are a field of academic inquiry that looks at employee relations not just unions. It differs from Human Resources because HR looks at employment relations from a management perspective and industry relations looks at management from the employer perspective. Additionally, states that conflict between works and management is normal and natural, however, it gives rise to union formation.

Any one characteristic that describes a person can lead to the identification of a group of people having similar interests and forming a group to protect those interests, thus forming a union. Unions can also form around issues, for example the NFA who is a collective group of people working to protect gun usage. Workers form unions based on these thoughts to ensure that collective representation in the workplace occurs. Furthermore, people intentionally form groups of interest (unions) because they see themselves as different and want to promote and protect their different views from potential conflicts occurring within society.

The basic premise of industrial relations is that there is an inherent conflict between workers and management and that conflict exists with or without the use of unions. Unions can serve both good and bad purposes within an organization but are not always needed. They are not a sign of organizational downturn, rather a sign that you have different goals and objectives brewing between your current workers and management team. However, while workers and management may have notice mixed motives, these conflicts can serve as outlets for cooperation between the two. They must work to understand the conflict within the relationship before being able to correctly comprehend employee relations.

II. Key Elements

A. Management Efficiency – Cost Discipline

The starting point for industrial relations is management efficiency, otherwise known as cost discipline, where management has the initiative to govern the workforce at all levels. Each level of an organization deals with costs discipline and it is often referred to as the systematic planning, control, and supervision of organizational decisions according to some profit and/or costs standard. Thus, the goal of management is to achieve costs discipline at all levels of their organization resulting in capitalism, which leads to profit maximization.

In attempts to achieve costs discipline, we have realized there are both direct and indirect effects that may occur. Direct effects of costs discipline are seem most clearly between employees on their compensation levels and managements concern for labor costs control. Employees want to get paid more for doing less and management wants to pay less while receiving hardworking employees. Any other additional input in the production process would need to be economized from management perspective providing a surplus of income over labor costs. Indirectly, feelings of exploitations may occur which is a result of labor management interactions because every decision they make is driven by their costs discipline concern. For example, management must decide on economies of scale and how big it should be, the type of technology used in the production process, and how to divide the organization both vertically and horizontally; which are all driven by costs discipline initiatives. As the organization increases in size, the employers see themselves drifting away from the item they produce which leads to alienation within the organization. The implementation of technology that decreases the use of employee skills also leads to feelings of monotony while organizational divisions can create feels of subordination because of what the levels represent. Vertical divisions focus on specialization and are driven by limits on how much one person may know. They are also...
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