Career Spotlight: Labor Relations Manager

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Labor relations managers mediate between their organization and its employees or labor unions.

Labor relations managers serve as the liaison between organizations and their employees or labor unions. A substantial part of the position involves negotiations to deal with or avoid litigation and strikes, according to The Balance Careers. They may also work with mediators and arbitrators to define new labor agreements or determine working conditions.

As one of an organization’s chief problem-solvers, labor relations managers should develop an understanding of issues such as:

  • Labor laws
  • Wage data
  • Industry information
  • Bargaining procedures
  • Economics

“Labor relations is the term used to define the process between employers and employees, management, and unions to make decisions in organizations. The decisions taken refer to wages, working conditions, hours of work, and safety at work, security, and grievances,” according to a 2017 paper titled “Labor Relations: Contemporary Issues in Human Resource Management.”

An advanced degree, such as an online Master of Public Administration from Ohio University, can help administrative professionals prepare for a position in labor relations.

Labor Relations Job Description

Most labor relations managers are part of an organization’s human resources department. Although they may be involved in determining salaries and benefits, they work with employees already on the payroll and are not part of the hiring process. Other responsibilities may include:

  • Implementing workplace policies. Managers are responsible for building and implementing guidelines and practices that are relevant to a company’s labor relations, according to Labor relations professionals create goals and set deadlines for achieving those goals.
  • Researching wage data. Labor relations managers should know how to research, use and understand wage data within an industry, according to
  • Negotiating with employees. If an employee files a complaint, a labor relations manager serves as the liaison and works with both parties to find a solution. During negotiations, managers are responsible for dealing with union practices, pensions, healthcare, welfare, salary and grievances, according to
  • Maintaining the company-employee relationship. Managers are responsible for ensuring a good relationship between employers and employees, as well as working ahead to smooth over issues before they become problematic. Labor relations professionals go through contracts line-by-line, ensuring that the terms of the agreement are upheld.
  • Knowledge of labor laws. Managers should understand the National Labor Resolutions Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act and be able to apply this knowledge to help resolve problems, according to The Balance Careers. Both laws help to protect employees and employers during disputes.

Because they work with employees and often deal with high-pressure situations, labor relations managers should be organized, level-headed and empathetic, and have excellent written and oral communications skills, according to the website Masters in Human Resources.

Employment Outlook for Labor Relations Managers

A public administration career path usually includes working as a labor relations specialist before moving up to a position as a labor relations manager, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Growth within the human resources management field, including labor relations, is expected to increase 7% from 2018 to 2028, according to the BLS.

As of 2018, the average salary for labor relations managers in the U.S. is $91,992 annually, according to Payscale. However, the salary for labor relations professionals varies by organization and location. Top earners can make an average salary of $125,000 a year, whereas the bottom 10% brings in roughly $62,000 annually. Managers in corporate positions may be eligible to receive a bonus.

Ohio University’s Online Master of Public Administration

Ohio University’s online MPA program is dedicated to preparing professionals for a career in public administration. Through the university’s prestigious Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, students gain an overview of the scope of public administration work while building skills in policy, finance, leadership, business, management, and communications. The school occupies the No. 12 spot on the SR Education Group’s 2019 Best Online Colleges Offering MPA Programs rankings.

The program, which is 100% online, offers four concentrations: Crisis and Emergency Management; Public Leadership and Management, Non-Profit Management, or State and Local Government Management. Students can finish their degree programs in as few as two years. For more information, contact Ohio University now.


Recommended Reading

10 Traits of a Successful Public Administrator

Working in Public Administration

Public Administration: Building More Diverse Public Organizations and Businesses


Labor Relations: Contemporary Issues in Human Resource Management: IntechOpen

What Does a Labor Relations Specialist Do?: Best Value Schools

Labor Relations Manager: Payscale

Labor Relations Manager: Job Description and Education Requirements:

What Does a Labor Relations Professional Do?: The Balance Careers

Human Resources Managers: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics