What does a Labor Relations Manager do?

Cassie L. Damewood

A labor relations manager works as a conduit between management and employees to guarantee the satisfaction of both groups. He may deal with union or non-union employees and is often employed by government agencies. Both small and large companies usually employ these types of managers. People in this profession frequently teach on the subject at the college level or serve as independent consultants for profit and non-profit firms.

A labor relations manager will be involved in conflict resolution.
A labor relations manager will be involved in conflict resolution.

To be competent in this position, a labor relations manager is generally required to be well informed on the most recent labor and wage laws in the region in which he works. He is frequently expected to interpret changes in policies for management and employees as well as explain the language and subtext of contracts. In some situations, he is designated to represent management’s viewpoints to union representatives.

A labor relations manager may handle disputes related to employee compensation.
A labor relations manager may handle disputes related to employee compensation.

Conflict resolution is normally a large part of a labor relations manager’s job. Before a relatively minor issue elevates into a full-blown workplace complaint, he or she typically intercedes to mediate the situation. This intervention often prevents work disruption, lawsuits or strikes. It frequently requires the manager to communicate with a variety of players, including government agencies, unions, employees and management.

If a labor relations manager works for a government agency at a local or regional level, his job may concentrate more on issues specific to government employees. These topics regularly include job classifications, labor laws and guidelines and rules that relate to workplace safety codes, wages, hourly workers and general fair employment practices. Some managers conduct research on economics, workplace communications and labor laws and compile statistics for government agencies.

The daily job duties of a labor relations manager are usually consistent whether he works in the private or public sector. He is commonly required to document all workplace activities that involve labor topics or workplace communications. As he is frequently expected to attend meetings of both employee and management representatives, the manager is often required to be objective in his observations and reports. Statistical reports based on labor relations activities are commonly expected from a person with this job.

A successful labor relations manager is typically a good listener who is reputed to be fair-minded and empathetic to all parties. His organizational skills are important, as he is normally inundated with paperwork and files relating to a number of issues that may remain open for discussion for weeks or months. Excellent oral and written communications skills are considered a plus.

A bachelor’s degree in business administration, labor relations or human resources is generally required to qualify for this position. Senior level positions in labor management may require a master’s degree in a related concentration. Experience as a union representative, shop steward or human resources manager is preferred.

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