A person considering a career in business, law, human resources, industrial-organizational psychology or a related field may wonder, “What is labor relations?” This is a field of study of the relationships between employers, the government, and workers. Labor relations has a long history in the United States, and it involves a range of professional disciplines as well as laws set up at the state and federal level.

Labor As a Field of Study

At the broadest level, labor relationships refers to the study of labor or work. The field can have a different meaning depending on the context in which it is used. Historically, this concept refers to the regulation and social inequality of work or labor. In modern times, the concept generally means the study and practice of managing labor performed by unionized workers. It is a part of industrial relations and human resources management.

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Academic and Industrial Applications of Labor Relationships

In academics, scholars and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines may engage in the study of labor from an industrial or institutional perspective. Labor can also be studied in academia from a social or cultural perspective. Some of the types of professionals who engage in these studies include economists, historians, lawyers, political scientists, and demographers. The industrial application of studying labor involves studying labor unions, labor movements, the organization of workers, and the negotiation and administration of contracts for workers.

What is Labor Relations

Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 governs relations between employers and unionized workers in the United States, explains the United States Department of Labor. In the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, a set of rights and responsibilities is spelled out for unionized employees, workers seeking to unionize, and employers. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act includes stipulations on how labor unions report their income and expenses. It also includes a bill of rights for unionized employees. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act sets up requirements for employers and labor unions related to the reporting and disclosure of certain activities related to hiring, job posting. and terminations. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act also includes regulations on conducting fair elections for the officers of labor unions and protecting the money and assets of labor unions.

Federal Agencies Involved in Coordinating and Managing Relations in Labor

The United States Department of Labor is the lead agency for coordinating and managing employer and worker relationships. Outside of the Department of Labor, there are other entities that also play a role. The National Labor Relations Board is focused on private sector activities, such as when workers want to vote on whether or not to have union representation. The National Mediation Board, Federal Labor Relation Authority, and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services also play a role in labor relationships.

Understanding what this sub-type of labor history is makes it easier for a person to gain knowledge about the relationships between workers, employers, and government agencies. Many entities and professions have played a role in this area of study, and American policies generally separate the subject into the private sector and public sector. Familiarity with the answer to, “What is labor relations?” is a good start in understanding the complexity of the roles workers, employers, and government play in the American economy.