Labor Relations and Management Interview
1. How has the Labor Relations Officer/Manager's job and function changed in recent years?
In looking at the job function of Labor Relation managers in recent years the focus has altered significantly. Legislators are negotiating major changes in the traditional structure or labor management as the states are getting more involved by making reforms that favor corporations (Rabinovitz, 2007). It is apparent that the importance of labor relations in the boardroom has decreased significantly. Labor is no longer an issue requiring strategic direction by top managers. In the late 1980s often Labor managers ...view middle of the document...
The corporation of New York Central Railways had a combined mileage of over 34,000 lines of track that the workers were responsible for maintaining. During the 1980s the issues surrounding labor had to be resolved as it affected production and delivery of millions of dollars worth of goods, equipment, livestock, and hardware. The top levels of the corporation worked long and hard with us labor managers to come to agreements to short circuit delays in production and transportation. When corporate was asking to layoff workers, labor union representation was critical to handling job security concerns. Compared to today labor concerns rarely, if ever, come up to top management. Instead corporate strategy is focused on how to beat the competition and hang on to key markets that are being overtaken by freight carriers and even trucking companies (Trends et al. 2002). The important talks stem around finding political support for NAFTA and cost cutting measures needed to reduce the huge capital expenditures related to maintaining a railroad enterprise (Trends et al 2002). Issues of safety and environmental conformity are more of the labor related issues of today.
3. How often are strikes, lockouts, and shut-ins used today or are they obsolete?
Well I have not seen any of those old methods used in attempting to get corporate cooperation in over a decade. With the current recession in play, it is hardly a problem for corporations to find workers to replace union employees. Strikes work better when the economic health of the nation is in optimum condition and businesses are expanding production. When the economy is prospering, everyone is working and therefore more revenue is available to successfully achieve a collective bargaining agreement. Back in the 1990s when the economy experienced record highs, negotiating with management rarely required mediation. The demands were often met with little conflict. Even with a long strike the resulting wage increases were generous considering some of the previous years stalemates that lasted for over a year with no resolution. At John Deere a six term contract was agreed to that included incremental wage advancement, concessions relating to work day hours and even increases for new employees. The United Auto Workers had previously posed a strike with Caterpillar. Management eventually settled the issue by hiring outside the union. This causes the union board some concern in getting their workers back on the job. There were willing to accept concessions when before they would have dug in their heels for the long term.
4. Do you believe that Labor Management has a more deliberate strategic role in the leadership of a company?
Definitely, CEO, and others on the executive board have to take into consideration the assets available to them from within the organizational structure that can benefit investor relations and increase revenues. Realizing the contribution that Labor Managers can make in meeting corporate...