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Labor Relations Specialists Duties and Responsibilities

Labor relations specialists work in a variety of industries. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary, but there are several core tasks associated with the job, including:

Research and Draft Proposals Labor relations specialists draft proposal language as part of the collective bargaining process. These contracts are called collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and they serve as legal and procedural guidelines for employee and management relations. Labor relations specialists research, write, and carefully review summary documents. They analyze proposals to make sure they meet the needs of all parties involved. They draft operating rules, contract proposals, and counterproposals for labor negotiations with employees, management leaders, and other collective bargaining parties.

Interpret Legal Contracts Offering interpretation and guidance to ensure compliance with contract provisions, wage laws, and standard regulations is a primary role of labor relations specialists. Every day, they provide direction to company management to ensure all contracts are compliant. Making sure that employees and employers are both are engaged in the labor relations process is another key responsibility. Some labor relations specialists get specialized legal training or a Juris Doctor degree to better carry out these responsibilities.

Lead Meetings Between Management and Labor On a daily basis, labor relations specialists meet with employees and company representatives to measure their needs. During gatherings, they educate both the labor and management sides. Informing both sides of desires and wishes is critical for single negotiations and for building a more positive long-term relationship between the two sides. Labor relations specialists focus on sustaining and nurturing important relationships over time.

Administrate Labor Contracts Managing the administration process for labor contracts is the key responsibility of labor relations specialists. They analyze and negotiate key issues such as compensation rates, contract provisions, healthcare, wages, pensions, union requirements, and management guidelines. They handle paperwork organization and obtain needed signatures for each contract.

Address Work Grievances When workers have grievances, organizations turn to labor relations specialists to investigate the truth of their claims. Mediation is a significant aspect of this job, and specialists work to resolve conflicts and communication difficulties. They help organizations handle collective bargaining and negotiate with larger groups to prevent legal action and address worker complaints. As arbitrators, they handle disciplinary problems, work-related incidents, and labor disputes.


Labor Relations Specialist Skills and Qualifications

Labor relations specialists are shrewd negotiators who can deal with conflict and spot creative solutions for compromise. Employers typically look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree and at least three years’ experience in labor relations. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:

  • Negotiation – handling negotiation processes for collective bargaining agreements is a key responsibility of this role
  • Contract administration – labor relations specialists manage systems, process invoices, and maintain efficient ongoing administration
  • Arbitration – grievance handling, mediating, and arbitrating between disputing parties is the primary responsibility of labor relations specialists
  • Writing skills – writing amendment agreements, letters of dispute, or contract term clarifications are constant requirements for this position
  • Research skills – successful labor relations specialists constantly use research to retrieve relevant data, analyze alternatives, offer recommendations, and impact outcomes
  • Communication skills – labor relations specialists must use tactical communication skills to provide advice and counsel in difficult conflicts and disputes
  • Leadership skills – leadership skills are essential for labor relations specialists, who must spearhead communication with many different groups to bring conflicts to resolution

Labor Relations Specialist Education and Training

It’s common for labor relations specialists to have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial relations, business administration, or a related field. These degrees offer education in labor-specific topics such as contract negotiation and employment law. Most entry-level labor relations specialists develop their skills under the guidance of a more experienced mentor. Employers typically seek candidates with at least three to five years of experience in industrial labor and operations.


Labor Relations Specialist Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for labor relations specialists is $63,200. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $18,820. The highest-earning 10 percent are paid more than $116,480. The BLS projects that employment of labor relations specialists will decline 8 percent through 2026. The number of workers in unions has decreased to about 10 percent of the workplace, which will create less demand for labor relations services. However, many labor relations specialists now focus on employees who are not union members.


Helpful Resources

We searched the web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a labor relations specialist. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect, and engage:

Labor and Employment Relations Association – this organization supports professionals working in all aspects of labor and employment relations. LERA can help you build your network, learn about the latest labor relations news, and get career help

The Labor Relations Process – read this book to get a full understanding of the history of labor relations, discover real-world examples, and get perspective from practitioners in the field

Labor Relations: Development, Structure, Process – get an insider’s view of the politics of labor relations, including economics and behavior, with this book. It’ll help you become an expert at negotiation and contract administration

Labor Relations: Striking a Balance – check out this book to learn the strategies, policies, and practices needed to successfully navigate the labor relations system

Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional – this quick reference guide tackles the biggest issues managers, HR professionals, and labor relations specialists face with tools, tips, checklists, and road maps to increase performance and success

Labor Relations Association – this nationwide organization of HR professionals and labor relations specialists supports those who work in the public sector