TheDevelopment of Labor Relations
TheDevelopment of Labor Relations
Laborunions are a critical stakeholder in any organization, but the powerthat such unions possess today has been acquired through a gradualdevelopment process. To be precise, labor relations have undergone agradual evolution process that became significantly marked beginningin the 1970s. According to Marino (2012), the turning point in laborrelations is traditionally perceived to have occurred following theelection of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. This is because Thatcher’selection gave rise to a neo-liberal wave, wherein there emerged amiddle class of workers with individualistic values. However, it isimportant to describe the key phases in the evolution of laborrelations.
Itis generally believed that the labor relations evolution processcomprise three phases, the first one being referred to as theorganizational stage. As the name suggests, this was the stage whereunion movements were formed. Key activities that marked theorganizing phase include the selection of union representatives, aswell as certification. At the same time, union movements organizedmassive campaigns in order to recruit as many members as possible(McHugh, 2010). The organizing phase also involved the articulationof workers’ rights to representation, together with the processesthat must be followed in pursuit of union recognition. By virtue ofbeing a forming phase, the organizational stage was characterized bythe opposition as well as hostility towards union movements. Theprevalent notion at that time was that unions interfered with theauthority and power of managers (Bess & Dee, 2012). For thisreason, it is evident that the impact of the organizational stage onlabor unions is that it generated great hostility together withopposition.
Stagetwo of the labor relations evolution process is referred to as thebargaining stage, and it is during this phase that negotiations aremade between employer’s representatives and employees’representatives. By virtue of being a bargaining phase, this stagewas characterized by a conspicuous show of power amongrepresentatives from both sides. As McHugh (2010) puts it, vitalconsiderations during the bargaining stage included bargaining poweras well as bargaining tactics. The implication of this is that laborunions acquired more say regarding the terms and conditions ofemployment, thus no longer faced the hostility and opposition theyhad encountered during the first phase.
Thelast phase in the labor relations evolution process is known as theadministration phase. Having undertaken collective bargaining andagreed on the bargaining power together with tactics, it was nowcrucial for employees’ representatives together with employer’srepresentatives to outline the terms of the contract, besideshighlighting the mechanisms that would be applied in the resolutionof any grievances or conflicts. An important consideration madeduring the administration stage is that there is a possibility ofdisputes arising when managers and employees interpret the contractdifferently (McHugh, 2010). Apart from this, the contract may notclearly capture unanticipated events. For these reasons, it becameimperative for labor unions and employers to carefully outline theprocedures that would be followed in resolving disputes and dealingwith unforeseen occurrences. In simple terms, the third phaserecognizes that there are instances where employees and employers maynot adhere to the provisions laid out in the bargaining contract.Accordingly, it is correct to say that the third phase somewhatneutralized the power hitherto acquired by labor unions during thebargaining stage. To be more specific, by defining the procedures tobe followed in the event of strikes or lock-outs, the third phasemeant that the power of labor unions to defend their members wassomewhat limited.
Bess,J. L., & Dee, J. R. (2012). Understandingcollege and university organization: Theories for effective policyand practice.Sterling,Virginia : Stylus.
McHugh,P. (2010). Employeeand labor relations students’ workbook.Retrieved from <<>> on 21 December 2016.
Regini,M. (2012). Industrial relations: three stages, two models and awidespread crisis. Statoe mercato,32(1),77-90.