Labor Relations Interview – Informational Interview Conducted with Judy Stormer, Human Resource Director/labor Relations Specialist, of Fiduciary360
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This paper is a brief synopsis of an informational interview conducted with Judy Stormer, Human Resource Director/Labor Relations Specialist, of Fiduciary360. Through the interview and some extensive research this summation will provide an understanding of not only unions, but human resources (specifically labor relations) and what makes a person successful in the field.
Understanding Labor Relations and Unions
Lets start with what it takes to be that employee who is responsible for labor relations with respect to grievances, wages and salaries, employee welfare, health care, pensions, union and management practices, and other contractual stipulations. No two days as a Labor Relations Specialist is or will be the same.
Businesses of all types and sizes depend on the specialized skills of human resources experts to ensure smooth operations, protection of assets, and employee satisfaction. In many larger corporations, there are several different divisions of human resources, such as accounts payable and receivable, hiring and training, benefits, and payroll. A human resources director oversees the operations of all divisions, and communicates with management to improve certain policies and procedures. (D. Jeffress. (n.d.))
A labor relations specialist is a human resources expert who helps workers and employers negotiate contracts. He or she conducts research on wages, benefits, and working conditions within a certain industry to help management design work contracts. If a dispute occurs between a single employee or union with employers, the labor relations specialist can moderate discussions and help both sides reach a satisfactory conclusion. Specialists conduct extensive research about competing businesses and economic theory to develop contract standards. When an employee or a collective union feels they deserve better compensation or benefits, they speak with a specialist to learn about their options. The labor relations specialist explains the limitations on their wants and writes a report to present to management. He or she attempts to negotiate deals with business owners and executives, explaining worker requests and outlining the best ways to ensure both parties are satisfied with final decisions. (D. Jeffress. (n.d.))
What is Labor Relation?
What is Labor Relations really? Labor Relations is the relations between management and labor, especially with respect to the maintenance of agreements, collective bargaining, etc. (Labor relations (n.d.)). I learned that dealing with government employees can and does get confusing at times for the Labor Relations Specialist. Many of the laws and regulations that apply to the private sector also apply to the public sector, but as pointed out during the interview the government employee has many more protections and in some cases more benefits. So as one can conclude; a greater amount of studying and learning both private and public Labor Relations laws and regulations will lead to ones success in this subarea of the Human Resources field.
History of Unions
Labor unions are almost as old as America itself. Although primitive unions of carpenters and other tradespeople made an appearance in various cities in colonial America, the first national labor unions gained strength in the 1820s. During this time, workers banded together to reduce the working day from a grueling 12 hours to a more manageable 10 hours. In 1866, the Nation Labor Union persuaded Congress to cut the workday down to todays eight hour standard.
Labor Day, a holiday observed on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the organized labor movement. The day is intended to honor the achievements of American workers and the contributions they have made to the prosperity and strength of the United States. The first Labor Day celebration was organized by members of the Central Labor Union and held on 5 September 1882. (Dana Hinders (04 April 2012.))
The American Federation of Labor (AFL), formed in 1866, made many contributions to the cause of protecting the rights of American workers. The group was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Childrens Bureau in the 1890s. The AFL also worked to pass the Clayton Act of 1914. This important piece of legislation allowed workers to use boycotts, strikes, and peaceful picketing as negotiation tools.
In 1935, John L. Lewis created the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO), the first attempt at industrial unionism. Essentially, his organization allowed all people employed in a particular industry, regardless of individual skill levels, to band together to improve working conditions as members of labor unions. The CIO, although remarkably successful in its own right, eventually merged with the AFL in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO and eliminate any jurisdictional disputes that would have a negative effect on the cause of organized labor.
Since then, however, labor unions have seen a great reduction in both their membership and power. Researchers have many different theories about the reasons for this change. Some feel that the increase in women and teenagers in the workforce has weakened the strength of labor unions, since members of these groups are generally not the sole providers for a family and thus less likely to be active in efforts to raise wages and benefits. Others believe that employers are to blame, since many companies are actively discouraging membership in labor unions–even going so far as to hire legal consultants to devise strategies to stop the formation of employee unions. (Dana Hinders (04 April 2012.))
Union vs. Non-Union
The challenges union and non-union environments faces are the many changes and uncertain economic outlook of the world when we move forward. Judys organization is increasingly looking at the non-union workers which have grown in the last year (J. Stormer, personal communication, May 7, 2012). When asking Judy if she would promote unions or associations in her organization. Her response was “I would definitely promote unions and associations within our organization if it projects itself as the custodian of its staff in respect to the entire welfare. The unions should take up all the labor issues such as bonuses, medical, life insurance policies and funds with the organization in the most constructive manner. I would simply discourage those unions who would disrupt the normal working of the organization.”
Labor unions can help their members