Human Resource Management and Labor Relations
The role of today’s Human Resource Manager (HRM) is much more involved than in the past. Human Resources (HR) has ordinarily been referred to as Personnel. Formerly, the manager in this field, whether it was referred to Personnel or HR, held a narrow margin of responsibilities. Today’s HRM has the unique role of looking out for the interests of both the employee and employer. Technology, globalization and outsourcing have added a challenging twist to HRM responsibilities. Adding further to this unique challenge is the fact that many industrial and skilled labor workers as well as professionals and others belong to labor unions.
Employees are entitled to form and join unions or not. Employees with union memberships have certain protected rights within the workplace. Union representatives engage in a bargaining process on behalf of employees for work rules, wage and salary, job security, benefits etcetera. Employees also have union representation in work investigations and during the grievance process. Employees may express concerns and dissatisfaction through union leadership. Labor contracts further protect employees with seniority. Employees with seniority have better opportunities to promote, select job assignments or positions and have first choice in scheduling vacation time. In a unionized organization, the HRM has a key role in working closely with management and union leadership in the labor relations process.
Employees of nonunion organizations may not have the same opportunities and job security as those of unionized organizations. These employees may be classified as at-will workers in which the employer or employee can terminate employment at any time. Although employers retain the right to exercise termination of the at-will employee at any time, there are certain situations in which they cannot. Such as when the employee has been asked to do something illegal or is based on discrimination of protected classes. Here too, the HRM works closely between management and employees.
In regards to salary and wages, compensation and benefits for nonunion employees may be slightly lower than those of labor union employees. Holley, Jennings and Wolters (2012) provide data that reflects “union-nonunion wage differential by industry. A positive union wage advantage is present in every industry listed except professional/business services and finance/insurance” (p. 321). They go on to explain that the spillover effect has some influence is narrowing these gaps. Whereas unions help develop work policies, compensation rates, etcetera, that is most beneficial for the employees, nonunion organizations develop policies that are more beneficial for the employer and wages are based on market based data. In nonunion organizations, the HRM helps ensure that fair policies are in place on behalf of the employee and to protect the employer.
All employees are protected under certain...