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Beyond Grey Pinstripes
Labor and Employee Relations (2011)
Topic AreasHuman Resource Management
The Labor & Employee Relations course has two parts. The first half covers the basics of labor relations, including organizing, collective bargaining, and the grievance process. It also covers the decline of unions and some of the issues that have developed as a result of that decline. The second half covers the broader area of "employee relations" including arbitration, mediation, employee layoffs, performance appraisal, managing diversity, implied contracts, and statutory rights. The course uses cases, but also is highly experiential, including simulations for grievance handling, arbitration, and performance appraisal. Labor and Employee Relations (LER) is useful for HR students, but also for operations students (since many factories deal with the issues we cover in this class) and those who expect to be managing large groups of employees (including those who may become corporate managers, or expect to manage their own companies).
One class focuses on the abuses of power in US industry historically that has led to the creation of unions in the US. We explore what purpose a corporation has, and whether the responsibility is to itself only or also to a community. This initial case is the film Harlan County. From that, we discuss the laws that developed in response to these experiences; I have several cases that tempt students into violating labor laws (in theory) to help them understand why those laws are there in the first place. Also in this class the Xerox Black Caucuses case is covered as well.
The course provides multiple examples of companies violating labor laws, and how laws are designed well or poorly.
The course presents one class on mediation and arbitration of employment disputes, which puts students into the shoes of arbitrators who have to decide if certain actions and practices of employees and companies are contractually allowed as well as fair.