Labor-Management Relations

Industrial or labor-management relations are focused on the relationship between the management and the workers within an organization. Labor-management relations include aspects of industrial life such as collective bargaining, trades unionism, discipline and grievance handling, industrial disputes, employee participation in management and the interpretation of labor laws. The collective bargaining process is a key part of industrial relations. It aims to reach an agreement for all employees and workers in a given company or workplace. Usually it focuses on issues such as wages, working hours, promotions, benefits and other employment terms.

Trade unionism is also important for the interaction between management and workers. It includes the system, principles and practices of trades unions. These unions? membership usually consists of workers whose common aim is to protect and promote their joint interests. An industrial dispute represents a conflict or difference of opinion between management and workers on certain employment terms. Where a trades union is recognized by the management at the company or workplace, union officials will usually conduct negotiations with the management on behalf of the workers.

The employer has the right to hire and lay off workers. An organization's management can shut down or merge some of its assets or implement technological changes. Thus it affects the interests of its employees. The employees try to enhance the terms and condition of their jobs. They seek to participate more actively in the process of decision-making that is usually in the hands of the management.

Governments attempt to influence and regulate industrial relations via laws, economic policy, rules and agreements. Labor-management relations appeared in the 19th century, as increasing industrialization in Europe and north America brought together large workforces. It evolved over the next century as a response to significant economic, political and social changes. Initially labor-management relations featured all interactions between employers and employees. These included human resource management, employee relations and union-management relations. This interpretation of the term represents its broad scope. Later, however, the meaning of the term narrowed to a restricted area of employee-employer relations. It excludes human resource management, which in the 21st century is a separate field that covers non-union employment relationships as well as the staff practices and policies of employers.

Due to many changes in the concept of management-worker interactions, the term industrial relations developed to be more associated to the unionized sector of the labor market. A lot of participants still consider labor-management relations as related to the three solutions to labor problems: personnel/human resource management; trade unionism and collective bargaining; government legislation. Labor-management relations aim to protect the interests of labor and management. It targets the highest level of mutual understanding among all sections in the industry which take part in the production process. It seeks to prevent industrial conflict and works for harmonious relations, a key factor in the productivity of the staff and to the national industrial progress.

Among labor-management relations' objectives are: increased productivity; enhanced worker efficiency; the establishment and promotion of an industrial democracy; the elimination or reduction of the number of strikes or lockouts via the provision of reasonable wages, enhanced living and working conditions and certain benefits; the improved economic conditions of workers in the existing state of industrial managements and political government. The progress and success of labor-management relations can be defined by several achievements. One of them is uninterrupted production, which means that there is continuous employment for all from manager to workers, all resources are fully utilized and there is uninterrupted flow of income. A decline in the number of industrial disputes and high morale within the company also shows good industrial relations. Wastages of man, material and machines are also reduced.

Labor-Management Relations: Selected full-text books and articles

Labor-Management Relations: Conditions for Collaboration By Rubin, Barry; Rubin, Richard Public Personnel Management, Vol. 35, No. 4, Winter 2006
Regional Competitiveness: Labor-Management Relations, Workplace Practices, and Workforce Quality By Kleinhenz, Jack; Smith, Russ Business Economics, Vol. 46, No. 2, April 2011
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
State of the Union: Labor Relations for a New Economy By Peck, Gretchen A Editor & Publisher, Vol. 144, No. 9, September 2011
Calm or Conflicted? Labor-Management Relations on Michigan's Iron Ranges in the Nineteenth Century By Reynolds, Terry S Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall 2007
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Mending Labor-Management Relationships By Flint, James Public Management, Vol. 84, No. 7, August 2002
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