Could You Pass a Labor Relations Class?

Could You Pass a Labor Relations Class?  

School is starting back, and that means I’m collecting the latest news on union activity – good, bad, and ugly – for a college-level labor relations course I’m teaching. Each of us at Horizon Point has a unique perspective on the union landscape through our work with various clients and projects, which we’ll be sharing in a series over the next few weeks. 

I’m kicking us off with a look at union activity right here in our North Alabama region, featuring a snippet from the 2023 Wage & Benefit Survey. When asked if any employees are represented by a union, only 3% of participating companies said yes:

All of these companies are in the manufacturing industry. Is that surprising? Why or why not? (I won’t grade you on it!)

In the same wage survey, we ask questions about pay practices, compensation, and benefits – these factors contribute to employee satisfaction and whether or not they’ll seek unionization. You may have noticed that big names like Amazon, Starbucks, and UPS have been making news for employee union activity and the sometimes less-than-stellar response from corporate leadership. Workplaces are more advanced than ever before, but sometimes labor practices don’t keep up.

SHRM recently published “The Evolution of HR and Labor Relations” for the Summer 2023 edition of HR Magazine. The biggest takeaway for me? The last sentence: 

“The worker of today isn’t so different from the worker of yesterday in terms of their core human needs,” [Steve] Bernstein says. “What people really want in the workplace is to be listened to, to have access to decision-making and to be in a position to at least influence their workplace.”  

Stick with us over the next few weeks as we explore further the changing (and stagnant) trends around labor relations and why it matters for YOU.

Jillian Miles Massey