UK Accounting Glossary
Labour relations can refer broadly to any dealings between management and workers about employment conditions. Most commonly, however, labour relations refers to dealings between management and a workforce that is already unionized or has the potential to become unionized. Labour relations is thus crucial to industries like autos and airlines with heavily unionized workforces. In the U.S., labour relations were profoundly affected by the National Labor Relations Act, passed during the 1930s, which gave workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. Labour relations have also been importantly affected by the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibited the “closed shop,” as well as the introduction of right-to-work laws in more than 20 states. By the early 21st century, labour relations were less affected by labour unions, to which only 8% of private-sector workers belonged in 2004, about half of the rate in 1983. The decline reflects the increase in labour relations consultants, who have helped managements avoid unionization.
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This glossary post was last updated: 10th February 2020.