Labor Relations Concentration

Feb. 1, 1993  AOS Guidelines: Business, Management and Economics

The area of labor relations is related to economics, personnel management and labor studies. Whether students approach labor relations from a managerial perspective or a union perspective, the basic core concepts are the same.

The study of labor-management relations is only one subject area within the diverse field of industrial relations. By its very nature, a degree in labor relations must be broad. Programs that go beyond studies in classic labor areas and business will be most helpful to students who intend to work in this field.

The labor relations concentration addresses issues that affect relations among organized groups of workers, employers and government officials and agencies, and requires integration of knowledge from sociology, psychology, law, economics, politics and history.

Students who seek a concentration in the area of labor relations will be prepared to work in union management negotiations (collective bargaining), contract administration, union organizing efforts and what management calls "preventative labor relations."

The guidelines that follow provide a basic program outline that can be augmented with additional relevant studies.

Highly recommended foundation studies include:

  • psychology
  • sociology
  • macro and micro economics
  • American business or labor history
  • logic
  • the use of computers
  • oral communication skills
  • writing skills
  • math
  • statistics.

Studies that are specific and essential to the field of labor relations include:

  • labor economics: looks at the underlying relationship between wages, skills, number of people looking for work and related issues
  • labor relations:  examines the relationship between organized labor and management
  • labor law: looks at all of the laws that govern the work place (but with an emphasis on the National Labor Relations Act and amendments, which govern the formal relationship between labor and management)
  • labor history: looks at the social, political and legal history of organized labor within the United States
  • collective bargaining: examines the formal process between labor and management in arriving at a labor contract.

Depending on a student’s goals and interests, additional studies in the field of labor relations could include studies in:

  • labor arbitration or dispute settlement
  • labor and politics
  • international labor relations
  • state labor laws 
  • labor leaders
  • issues dealing with unions, multinational firms and globalization
  • free trade and its impact on unions
  • human resources
  • wage and price theory
  • employee benefits theory
  • employee assistance programs
  • total quality management
  • participative management concepts
  • organizational behavior
  • how science and technology is impacting society and the workplace
  • demographics
  • changing nature of the work force (women, minorities, different cultures)
  • women in unions
  • the role of minorities in unions
  • accounting
  • finance
  • other related topics.