What Role Does the HR Manager Play in the Collective Bargaining Process?

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collective-bargainingHR managers and collective bargaining go hand-in-hand because management professionals in the field of HR are experts in both employee relations and labor relations.

If you have always dreamed of becoming a Human Resources administrator or manager, it is important to know some of the modern day tasks you will be responsible for.

In the past, the HR manager played a small role in the organization, but as the position becomes more strategic, managers in HR have played an important part of different planning within the organization. This is why HR managers are part of the labor contract negotiations process, where an agreement must be made that will benefit both employees and the organization.

Related Infographic: State of the Unions

What is Collective Bargaining?

Before you can understand just how HR managers play a role in collective bargaining, you should have a firm understanding of what collective bargaining is. Collective bargaining is a part of the labor contract negotiations process and involves drafting an agreement between a labor union and the employer. The agreement itself will lay out the terms and conditions of employment for the union with the employer for a specified period of time that can last between 2 and 5 years.

What Are Some of the Roles of the HR Manager in Collective Bargaining Agreements?

HR Managers are involved in several different parts of the process. First, managers who are well-versed and knowledgeable in labor law will be a part of the negotiations process. During this time, the manager will decide which terms and conditions are fair and how long of a period is appropriate for the company. Some managers who hold this title and do not have experience in labor law may not take part in the negotiations process.

After an agreement is made between the union and the manager, the next step will be to set the wages. The manager will need to meet with a team of executives, including the CEO and the CFO to to discuss the amount the company has allotted for wages. The team will then assess the financial condition of the company and trends. If production levels are level or on the rise, a wage decrease will not be necessary. The manager will need to negotiate a fair wage after calculating the labor costs and considering many different future scenarios. The manager will have many different wage proposals prepared to present to the union and will typically offer a range from the current rate to the maximum rate the company is willing to pay employees from the union.

Another important part of negotiations concerns benefits, and this is the area of negotiations that is most contested. Wage increases directly affect benefits, and this is what parties discuss in their meetings. The manager will prepare benefit proposals and offer the union concessions during this lengthy stage of the process.

Collective bargaining can be a long process of contract negotiations and the HR manager plays a very important dual role. Not only does the manager need to protect the interests of their company, they must also strengthen relationships with employees and keep them satisfied. To agree with the negotiations, HR managers must be experienced and technically trained.