HR Policy Global

S01E17 - Decoding USA: An Employee Relations Profile

Welcome to the Wild Side, a podcast that discusses the world of modern employee relations ten minutes at a time. This is a country-specific employee relations profile for the United States of America. In this episode, special guest Rick Warters discusses trade union representation and collective bargaining in the U.S. Rick runs the Employee Relations course at the University of Connecticut and is the brain trust behind this podcast series.

As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, the National Labor Relations Act was born to address the inequality of power between workers and employers, it also attempted to eliminate obstructions to free-flowing commerce. This policy is still in place today. Several unique elements distinguish US Labor Relations including the concept of exclusive representation, the comprehensive collective bargaining agreement, negotiated limitations on the right to strike or lockout, and the resulting brinkmanship on contract expiration. Let’s look at how these differ from international conventions and the impact of time-sensitive collective bargaining agreements.

Key Takeaways: 

  • The legislation that gave employees the right to organize and protected a company’s business flow. [1:50]
  • How US policy differs from the United Nations conventions 87 and 98 and how US unions stand apart from other nation’s unions. [3:00] 
  • The influence unions have in US policymaking. [4:49]
  • Employee voice is limited when an established union does not exist. [6:37]
  • How collective bargaining agreements are handled in the US. [7:39]
  • Unions have the strike, companies have the lockout. [9:06] 
  • Tips for Employee Relations Specialists when working with unions in the US. [11:08]