In today's labor market the threat of union organization is not often at the top of employers' lists of priorities. The balance between employers' basic freedom to make decisions within an organization and the rights of employees to be protected from illegal action must be preserved in the interest of both. Open, honest communication is a key strategy of effective employee and labor relations. In this paper, I will identify how unions and labor relations impact organizations. I will also examine the impact of changes in employee relations strategies, policies and practices on organizational performance.
Labor relations are a broad field encompassing all the myriad interchanges between employers and employees. Labor relations emphasizes skills that managers and union leaders use to foster effective labor-management cooperation, minimize costly forms of conflict (strikes), and seek win-win solutions to disagreements (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhert, Wright, 2003 p 442). While labor relations are most often used to discuss this exchange as it pertains to unionized employees, it may also refer to non-union employees as well.
In the United States, labor relations gained a huge boost with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. This act covered a wide range of labor rights, including the right to strike, the right to bargain as a union, and a general right to protest and take action to achieve their desires. The National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, gave most employees these rights.
Employees choose to join unions for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are as follows:
- Compensation and benefits are not commensurate for peers doing similar work.
- Employee discipline and grievance systems are not established.
- Promises that were made have not been kept.
- Management does not make an effort to obtain employee input.
- Promised pay raises have not materialized.