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What Businesses Need to Know About Labor Relations

When it comes to labor relations, what you don’t know could cost your organization big time. Are you willing to take that risk?

One of the last things employers want to see out in front of their workplace is a picket line. Unfortunately for Mack Truck, that is exactly what management saw on October 12, 2019. According to The Morning Call, the walkout and strike spanned across three states and resulted in hundreds of workers striking outside Mack Truck’s cab and vehicle assembly plant in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. The union’s contract had expired two weeks prior to the walkout date, and the negotiations dragged on for 10 days past a key deadline. At stake were some big-ticket issues, including wage increases, health care and prescription drug coverage and work schedules.

It was the first strike for Mack since 1984. It lasted roughly four weeks.

Labor Relations Should Never Be Taken for Granted or Ignored

The disruption, loss of revenue and bad publicity of that labor union walk out and strike must have been a big hit for Mack, a large corporation that employs thousands. Imagine what a crisis like that would do to small and mid-sized companies? We have recently written about how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing labor relations, which is a concern for organizations across the country as businesses begin to open up and employees return to work.

Labor relations are a critical component of a successful business strategy, particularly when working in construction, transportation, manufacturing or other industries where labor unions are common. If you depend upon union labor, you’re well aware that collective bargaining and other aspects of labor relations may significantly impact your workplace culture, profit margin, and more. Relying on an inexperienced negotiators or incomplete understanding of labor laws enacted and enforced by the National Labor Review Board (NLRB)  could hurt your organization’s interests and result in losses of talent, time, and money.

Labor Relations Is About More Than Contract Negotiations and Walkouts

Beyond collective bargaining and contract negotiations, labor relations also encompasses other strategic human resources processes and policies that impact unions and non-union employees alike. When done well, labor relations can help build a compliant and beneficial relationship between management and labor. Some of those other labor relations functions, include:
  • Labor policy development
  • Union and non-union policy coordination and development
  • Grievance procedures and policies
  • Compliance oversight
  • Training and advising staff for contract compliance
  • Customized labor relations special projects

RAI Resources offers HR consulting and other services you can depend on.

As labor relations professionals, our team brings exceptional interpersonal communication skills, deep understanding of cultural diversity and inclusion issues and the focus you need to successfully navigate negotiations and other labor-management interactions. When you need to protect your interests and reach a fair and equitable resolution that helps with employee retention and productivity, third-party consulting from RAI Resources can help. RAI’s team of experienced specialists can review your existing agreements and policies to ensure they comply with all Department of Labor (DOL) standards, as well as help you meet the numerous compliance requirements for employers that you may be struggling with or even unaware of at this time.

Don’t wait for a complaint to land you in the hot seat. Contact us for a labor relations consultation.