What Does a Labor Relations Specialist Do?

After earning a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management or a related major, many graduates are overwhelmed by the sheer number of diverse job opportunities available in the field. In fact, the job outlook in the employment services industry is skyrocketing much faster than most other occupations at a rate of 55 percent, which will create more than 90,700 jobs before 2020. Therefore, aspiring HR professionals are finding employment as human resource department managers, people services specialists, workforce planners, human resource developers, compensation or benefits analysts, plan personnel assistants, or labor relations specialists. For those with a calm professional demeanor, collaborative work style, respect for diverse populations, and exceptional interpersonal communication skills, becoming a labor relations specialist might be a fitting career move. Read on to find a complete job description and determine if becoming a labor relations specialist is the right career match for your goals.

Labor Relations Specialist Job Description

As a specialized role in the field of human resources, labor relations specialists are vital for preparing information for management to utilize during the collective bargaining process. Using their vast knowledge on economics, wage data, labor law, and collective bargaining trends, labor relations specialists interpret and administer employees’ contracts with respect to grievances, wages or salaries, employee welfare, healthcare benefits, pensions, union practices, and other stipulations. Labor relations managers often implement industrial labor relations programs to oversee compliance with the union’s negotiated contract. Since more and more companies are seeking to avoid litigation or strikes, these specialists are essential for serving as a liaison to resolve disputes between employees and management.

In the daily workday of labor relations specialists, they are typically responsible for developing labor policies, overseeing the management of industrial labor relations, negotiating collective bargaining agreements with the union, managing grievance procedures to handle complaints from unionized employees, advising the human resources staff to ensure compliance with the contract, consulting with executive management to get input into aspects of personnel policies, developing new or revised union contracts, compiling information on statistics, and maintaining records of wage and salary surveys or correspondence.

Additional Resource: Do You Need Strong People Skills to Work in Human Resources?

Work Environment for Labor Relations Specialists

Since union membership is steadily declining in most industries outside of the public sector, labor relations specialists are now working more than ever before with employees who are not members of a labor union, thus increasing job opportunity. Gaining employment in nearly every industry in the workforce, labor relations specialists often are hired within employment placement agencies, professional employer organizations, business labor organizations, management of companies or enterprises, insurance benefit companies, hospitals, and the state or federal government. Although most work on a full-time basis in the typical 40-hour work week in an office setting, labor relations specialists can even find contracting positions outside of human resources departments or firms that involve frequent travel.

For the majority of businesses, the ultimate success hinges on the competency and dedication of their employees, thus creating a high demand for labor relations specialists to maintain a happy and skilled workforce. Although the daily life and duties related to the profession vary tremendously from one position to the next, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor relations specialists are well-compensated for their expertise with a mean annual salary of $56,210, with the top ten percent reaching the six-figure salary mark. As the job outlook for labor relations specialists continues to grow, it is highly recommended that individuals who thrive in an environment requiring consistent efforts to reach agreement consider labor relations.