Labor Relations Manager: Salary and Job Description

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Strong labor relations are critical to ensuring harmonious relationships between workers and management. Disruptions to this relationship could have an adverse effect on employee engagement, reduce employee satisfaction, and hurt productivity. It could also make it difficult for organizations to retain employees. In workplaces that are marked by particularly poor labor relations, litigation and strikes may ensue. These elements can have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line.

A labor relations manager can help minimize the possibilities of labor strife and keep a company and its workers on the same page. It’s a complex role, but it’s also one that can be financially and professionally rewarding for those who hold an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Public Administration. Before exploring the labor relations manager salary, however, it’s important to take a deeper look into the labor relations manager profession.

What Is a Labor Relations Manager?

Labor relations managers can act as the glue that keeps positive relationships between employees and their workers or labor unions strong. Whether working independently or with a mediator or an arbitrator, these individuals strive to find a happy medium that honors organizational goals while ensuring industry-related equity and fairness in workers’ wages and working conditions. Their work can lead to engaged, satisfied employees, which in turn can yield gains in productivity and profitability.

By the very nature of what a labor relations manager is, the role can be a high-pressure one. Those in the profession may have to work through tense situations and conflicts that can threaten to cause separation between the employer, workers or labor unions. Yet when these issues are resolved and harmony is restored, the results can be quite fulfilling.

Labor Relations Manager 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 who are already on the payroll and are not part of the hiring process. A labor relations manager job description may include the following.

  • Implementing workplace policies: Managers are responsible for building and implementing guidelines and practices that are relevant to a company’s labor relations, according to the workplace website 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.
  • Negotiating with employees: If an employee files a complaint, a labor relations manager serves as the liaison and works with both the worker and the employer to find a solution. During negotiations, managers are responsible for dealing with a variety of issues, such as union practices, pensions, salary guidelines, and grievances.
  • Maintaining the company-employee relationship: Managers are responsible for ensuring a good relationship is maintained between employers and employees, as well as working ahead to smooth over issues before they become problematic. Labor relations professionals go through labor contracts line-by-line, ensuring the terms of the agreement are reasonable and upheld.
  • Knowledge of labor laws: Managers should understand the National Labor Resolutions Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act and should be able to apply this knowledge to help resolve problems. Both laws help protect employees and employers during disputes.

Because they work with employees and often deal with high-pressure situations, labor relations managers need to have the skills to perform in such an environment. These include strong organizational skills, excellent written and oral communication competencies, and negotiation skills. They should also possess specific characteristics, such as the ability to remain level-headed and empathetic.

Labor Relations Manager Salaries

PayScale lists the median annual labor relations manager salary at about $98,000 as of 2021. PayScale also reports that salaries for labor relations managers and professionals vary by organization and location. Top earners can make an average salary of $144,000 a year, where the bottom 10% brings in roughly $61,000 annually. Managers in corporate positions may be eligible to receive a bonus.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the public administration career path usually includes working as a human resources specialist labor relations specialist before moving up to a position as a labor relations manager. Taking this path could lead to solid job opportunities: the BLS reports that job opportunities in the human resources management field, including labor relations, are expected to increase 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Make a Difference in the Working World

A good labor relations manager can spell the difference between an organization that runs efficiently with satisfied workers, and an organization that’s constantly dealing with the fallout of unhappy employees. Their work includes advocating for employees and, in the long term, helping a company remain as profitable as possible. This impact can make a career as a labor relations manager both important and satisfying.

Ohio University’s online Master of Public Administration degree program can help you prepare for success in this critical and rewarding profession. With four concentrations to choose from, our program is designed to help you gain an overview of the scope of public administration work while building skills in policy, finance, leadership, business, management, and communications.

Learn how a degree from Ohio University can help you take your career to new heights.

Recommended Readings

Public Administration: Building More Diverse Public Organizations and Businesses

10 Traits of a Successful Public Administrator

Working in Public Administration


The Balance Careers, “What Does a Labor Relations Professional Do?”

Gallup, “This Fixable Problem Costs U.S. Businesses $1 Trillion”

National Labor Relations Board, National Labor Relations Act

PayScale, Average Labor Relations Manager Salary

Society for Human Resource Management, Employee Relations Manager

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

U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Relations

U.S. Department of Labor, Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act