MANAGING EFFECTIVE LABOR EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Labor relations refer to the relationship between corporate management and the unionized workforce. Administering the best practices along with the current developments in labor relations is contingent on labor management relations. In addition, the legal framework for collective bargaining and negotiations need to be examined. Knowledge of the history of the relationship between labor unions and management is fundamental in effective labor relations management today.
What is a labor union?
A labor union is a group of employees, who are organized by the specific job that they do. They come together to form units that bargain with their employer regarding working issues and conditions. Union workers are referred to as “blue-collar workers” because the majority of people who hold that job specification are also union members. The majority of union members work in the public sector. These are jobs where the funding source can be national, state, or local. These types of jobs include: postal service jobs, teachers and police officers. Jobs in the private sector have no involvement with the government and are run by private citizens or groups. These types of jobs could be found in: restaurants, retail, or corporations. There are many more union members in the public sector than the private sector. Just under half of all employees in the federal, state, and local government are union members. Public school teachers, police, and firefighters hold the highest number of union workers in the local government. The second largest groups on the list of union members are protective service workers in private industry. In the private sector, union members make up about a quarter of the size of the public sector, in transportation and utility positions. Other major private industries with above-average union membership percentages are construction and manufacturing, where in each case thirteen percent of the employees are in unions (Sloane & Witney, 2011).
All union members have legal workplace rights that must be respected by their employers. Some rights are provided by federal or state statutes, while others are inherent in specific union-employer agreements. If a union member feels that his rights have been infringed, in addition to taking legal action, charges can also be filed against employers through the National Labor Relations Board for violation of collective bargaining agreements. The NLRB is responsible for the prevention and resolving of unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). They also guarantee the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. Another feature that union members have that non-union members don’t is a grievance procedure. This is an official complaint from the union member when they believe their contractual rights have been violated. The steps of the grievance procedure are outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. Collective bargaining is the process whereby unions and management negotiate and administer labor agreements (Sloane & Witney, 2011). Labor union officials enjoy many special powers and immunities that were created by legislatures and the courts. Union officials claim to rely on the support of members of a political organization of workers who are exclusive of their leadership. In “Special Privileges”, (2010), the following list of special privileges reveals the rights union members have in their favor: Privilege #1:
| Exemption from anti-monopoly laws.The Clayton Act of 1914 exempts unions from anti-monopoly laws, enabling union officials to forcibly drive out independent or alternative employee bargaining groups.
| Privilege #2:
| Power to force employees to accept unwanted union representation.Monopoly bargaining, or “exclusive representation,” which is embedded in most of the country’s labor relations statutes,...
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