Those of us Human Resources hate labor, all the people who perform labor, the organizations that represent labor and all that both parties represent – right?  I can not speak for everyone in HR but I can speak to this myself. And the answer to the question is no; an unequivocal no.

First let me speak to people side of labor, the people that do the work. These are the men and women who build things, who distribute things, and that process the routine information for companies. To be specific, I am talking about the electricians, the iron workers, the auto workers, and the nurses the bakers or the hotel housekeeping staffs. On a personal level I respect, admire and am thankful that we have these people doing these sometime thankless or unnoticed jobs. Today is their day – so I salute them and you should to!

As for the labor organizations, I can not say that I hold all of them in the same esteem, which I hold for the people they represent. I have come to respect some labor organizations, which, in my opinion, get it.

When I look at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and their training program, and the knowledge that they impart into their members, I am truly in awe. The IBEW brings value to their members, and value and quality to the contractors that they supply with electricians. As an aside if you look at their program you will see that it is a collaborative effort between IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). It seems like these two organization have figured out how to work together and provide mutual benefit to one and other. This is a shining example of success, with organized labor and management working together.

On the other side of the ledger, part of the charge of a union is to defend its’ members – no matter what.   So, even when the employer has the employee on video tape stealing merchandise, the union must come to their defense. Those of us in HR don’t like this.  No different that a defense attorney, who is pretty sure his client is guilty, their job is to defend them as best they can.  Many in HR get jacked up about this – but it is their job.  Let them do their job, and give them some respect having done so.

Another thing that some unions do that I find irksome is to make demands that are not based in reality. I have tried to understand or rationalize this a posturing in bargaining but often times it is just an unreasonable demand that can not and will not be met – which will ultimately become another wedge issue for management and labor. More often than not this seems to occur in public bargaining, which is ironic. For the most part public sector bargaining is unique because the funds available to management are usually public record.  So to those entities I would say, you want some more money go find it!

Another reason for HR to want to hate labor is this – to use a sports metaphor – how the game is being called.  The current administration is trying to use the NRLB to radically change the landscape in labor management relations through administrative channels, as opposed to the legislative process that has been used heretofore. Changes like this are another way that wedges are driven between labor and management, without it being the fault of one side or the other.

So it isn’t that those of us in HR hate labor, we often find ourselves in a situation where we can not win with labor.  We have to tow the Company line – even if we don’t always agree with it.  Just like the union that has to defend the employee who stole merchandise.

Today is Labor Day in our country and to that end as I said earlier and it is worth repeating… Today is their day – so let’s salute them and treat them with the respect that they deserve.