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Labor Relations, Employee Relations, and Global HR

Unit 5 - Labor Relations, Employee Relations, and Global HR

Scenario One: You are a supervisor in a small manufacturing plant. The union contract covering most of your employees is about to expire. How do you prepare for union contract negotiations?

Scenario Two: As the supervisor of a small manufacturing firm, you need to construct a plan for reducing both accidents and stress on the plant floor. How would you proceed and why?

Scenario Three: One of your plant managers will be sent to your sister company in Bulgaria for a period of three years. Write an expatriation and repatriation plan for this employee.

Please help to explain this and, if possible, provide websites

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The labor movement believes that all employees deserve equal pay for equal work. To negotiate well, HR professionals must clearly comprehend the financial implications of labor-related decisions and know how to build consensus among employees, union representatives and management. While union membership has declined over the past 20 years, unions still are a staple of certain industries, such as airlines, education and automobile manufacturing. So, many HR professionals--especially those in certain industries--must continue to develop and maintain union negotiating skills.

Some HR professionals prefer to negotiate solo, but most have a team of at least three individuals: the HR professional, the attorney, and the plant manager or chief financial officer. On that team, the HR professional is often the best spokesperson, and he or she needs to possess certain qualities and knowledge to perform that role well, including patience, creativity, trustworthiness and an understanding of collective bargaining laws.

Regardless of whether you're the official spokesperson, you need to understand the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and how it's enforced. "The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) interprets the NLRA," explains Taylor, who is 2005 chair of the Society for Human Resource Management Board of Directors. "But the NLRB changes composition based on who is in the White House. It's key for an HR practitioner to understand how the interpretation of the law changes" as board members change.

Developing a relationship with the union representative well before union negotiations begin is highly recommended. Invite that person to visit the plant and ask questions. Put yourself in their shoes and see what they are seeing and hearing. Most often, the union negotiator knows more about our business than we do; they're talking to our employees who are having problems. Craft a framework of collaboration, rather than contention. Establishing this relationship will also help give you another key in negotiations--credibility. The most important asset a negotiator has is credibility. Negotiators must be scrupulously honest. Know and trust at least one person on the other side of the table. If you trust your opponent, he or she can provide information about their priorities. It allows the organization to make better decisions about where to put capital to meet the greatest need."

Prepare for the Negotiation

Finding out the other side's key issues is all about being prepared. It's a lot of work to be on a bargaining team and also do your regular job. You have to balance the responsibilities and do your homework in advance."

To prepare, HR professionals must research:
- The company's needs and wants. Know what you want to accomplish in the negotiations. Identify any problems that have come up since the last negotiation,"
- It's important to include all levels of management in these discussions. Identify the parameters for monetary and non-monetary items with the plant management. Create a document you submit to senior management for approval
- Always prepare for the worst. Ensure that your operational management is prepared for the possibility of a work stoppage. It is almost impossible to have successful negotiations unless you are in a position to say 'no.'
- Develop a strategy and determine what is important
- See if there is a pattern of grievances filed. Talk with supervisors and union people. What kinds of changes does the union want to make?
- Ensure that your statistics about the workplace and benefits are accurate. Have supporting documents.
- Know the market condition and industry norms.

If the organization is in contract negotiations, it might be helpful to set up a domestic partnership benefits committee to make sure that any lesbian, gay, and bisexual and transgender employees have comparable benefits to their heterosexual counterparts. Adding domestic partner benefits to the collective bargaining agreement is a matter of economic justice. The denial of these benefits means that some of your members receive less pay for the same amount of work.


Creating a safe workplace will help reduce lost work time and the negative employee morale that accompanies an accident-prone work environment. Slip-and-fall and lifting accidents are common hazards that can be easily corrected with a strictly enforced safety program. Other workplace hazards include high noise levels and repetitive motion trauma. Many companies and agencies can assist you in developing a program to help prevent, minimize and cost control on-the-job injuries. OSHA and the National Safety Council are just two examples.

Questions to consider:

- Do your workplace(s) follow applicable federal and state regulations?
- Have you established a company wide safety program that rewards employees for adhering to the program?
- Are the tools and equipment that employees use regularly inspected for safety?
- Are there systems in place to encourage and reward employees for reporting and identifying unsafe work conditions?
- Do you thoroughly investigate all accidents and identify any trends?
- Are your offices designed with ergonomics in mind?
- Does your worker's compensation premium pay for reporting and identifying unsafe work conditions?
- Do you thoroughly investigate all accidents and identify any trends?
- Are your offices designed with ergonomics in mind?

Workmen's Compensation

Workers compensation insurance, a state-mandated coverage, is an important benefit for many employees because when they are injured on the job it pays for their medical costs and a substantial portion of their lost wages. Under this coverage, it is not necessary to prove negligence on the part of the employer. In many cases, workers compensation insurance is one of the largest expenses incurred by business owners. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, in 1994, American business paid workers compensation premiums in excess of $28 billion dollars.

Workers compensation premiums are used by insurance companies to pay for the two basic parts of a workers compensation policy- medical expenses and lost wages. All 50 states have laws and regulations that govern workers compensation. Knowing the employer requirements of the workers compensation laws in your state is the first step toward improving your control over costs. Workers compensation premiums pay for the medical expenses and lost wages are sometimes referred to as direct costs. There are additional or indirect costs associated with industrial accidents (and all other claims) that are typically not covered by an insurance policy. Some of these indirect costs include the overtime cost to replace the injured employee, your time spent filling out accident forms, and equipment or inventory damaged as a result of the accident, and lost productivity after the accident. The National Safety Council estimates that the indirect cost of accidents is between three and five times the actual direct cost. In 1994, the average direct cost of a workers compensation claim was $18,700. This means that the approximate indirect cost to the business for each accident was $74,800, which is not covered by insurance and thus reduces profit. Although both the direct and indirect cost of workers compensation often constitutes a major component of your expense, a practical and functioning loss prevention program can decrease them.


Today, workers compensation accounts for about 50 percent of all medical care costs, and that number is expected to rise. Aggressive management of workers compensation cases through a managed care program (where allowed by state law) not only helps companies reduce medical care costs, but can also help the injured employee make a speedier recovery and return to work sooner.

Fraud has become much more common in workers compensation cases. Careful management of workers compensation cases, including close monitoring of the claimant's activities and a review of all medical bills and physician's diagnoses (where necessary), can help eliminate fraudulent workers compensation claims and reduce associated costs.

If one of your employees does have a work-related accident, there are several steps you can take to contain medical costs and help the individual recover quickly. These steps are not meant to minimize or jeopardize the quality of medical care your employee receives. But they assist you and your employees in better managing their medical care for everyone's benefit by getting them back to work sooner.

A. Pre-Loss Strategies Checklist

1. Where state laws permit, use a managed care organization, such as preferred provider organizations (PPO) or health maintenance organizations (HMOs), for workers compensation cases. These established networks of member hospitals and physicians provide a high standard of medical care to help return employees to work while agreeing to prearranged discounts for their services.

2. Develop a program for reporting on- the-job injuries as soon as possible, and communicate it to employees.

B. Post-Loss Strategies Checklist

1. Encourage employees who have been injured on the job to seek prompt, professional medical care.
2. Should an employee become injured while on the job, report the incident promptly, usually within 24 hours, to your agent or ...

Solution Summary

This paper-style solution provides background and material for each of the scenarios in the problem in 5800 words with references.