A labor relations specialist works with a company’s representatives and labor union to interpret labor contracts concerning wages, pensions, healthcare, as well as management and union practices. These specialists address specific worker grievances and determine labor and management solutions are in compliance with the relevant agreement.
Watch a video to learn what a labor relations specialist does.
How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist
Labor relations specialists need a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, accounting, or human resource management. Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in labor or employment relations which focuses on labor-specific topics like contract negotiation and employment law.
Many employers prefer previous work experience which can be gained as a human resource specialist or generalist before advancing into labor relations. Some students specialize in certain topics like mediation, where becoming certified gives you the knowledge understanding of the collective bargaining process, labor law, and worker grievance procedures. Some colleges and universities offer these certifications.
Job Description of a Labor Relations Specialist
Labor relations specialists advise management on grievances, disciplinary procedures, and contracts. These specialists draft proposals, rules, and regulations to assist in facilitating collective bargaining. They meet with union representatives and lead meetings between labor and management and draft formal language as part of the collective bargaining process. They ensure human resource policies are in compliance with union agreement. They also train management on labor relations and investigates the validity of any labor grievances or claims.
Labor Relations Specialist Career Video Transcript
What happens when vital workers are poised to go on strike? Labor relations specialists look for ways to form employment agreements that will satisfy both the workers and those who employ them and therefore prevent the chaos that can follow a labor strike. Most of their time is spent negotiating and writing contract proposals and meeting face-to-face with employees and employers. They work with union representatives, company officials, and government representatives to discuss employment contracts for groups of workers, often called collective bargaining agreements.
Labor relations specialists help form these agreements by negotiating salaries, benefits, and working conditions that both sides can agree to. If employees believe their rights have been violated, labor relations specialists examine and collect evidence around their grievances. They listen carefully to the workers they represent and may coach them on the appropriate way to advocate and negotiate with company leaders. Labor relations specialists are experts at forging creative solutions.
Job qualifications usually include a bachelor’s degree, but may require education levels from a high school diploma up to a master’s degree, depending on the occupations of the workers they represent. While sometimes facing an uphill battle, labor relations specialists do more than just resolve conflicts, they bridge the relationship between management and workers for the long-term.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Labor Relations Specialist.
National Center for O*NET Development. 13-1075.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.