What Labor Relations Specialists Do
Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts.
Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Most work full time during regular business hours.
How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist
Applicants usually have a bachelor’s degree in labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required varies by position and employer.
The median annual wage for labor relations specialists was $69,020 in May 2019.
Employment of labor relations specialists is projected to decline 7 percent from 2019 to 2029. Union membership has declined, resulting in less demand for the services of labor relations specialists.
Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.
Labor relations specialists typically do the following:
- Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
- Lead meetings between management and labor
- Meet with union representatives
- Draft proposals and rules or regulations
- Ensure that human resources policies are consistent with union agreements
- Interpret formal communications between management and labor
- Investigate validity of labor grievances
- Train management on labor relations
Labor relations specialists work with representatives from a labor union and a company’s management. In addition to leading meetings between the two groups, these specialists draft formal language as part of the collective bargaining process. These contracts are called collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and they serve as a legal and procedural guide for employee/management relations.
Labor relations specialists also address specific grievances workers might have, and ensure that all labor and management solutions comply within the relevant CBA.
Labor relations specialists held about 78,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of labor relations specialists were as follows:
|Labor unions and similar labor organizations||76%|
|Management of companies and enterprises||2|
Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some may travel for arbitration meetings or to discuss contracts with employees or management. The work of labor relations specialists can be stressful because negotiating contracts and resolving labor grievances can be tense.
Most labor relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Some specialists work longer periods when preparing for meetings or settling disputes.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of labor relations specialists.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists
Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists conduct an organization’s compensation and benefits programs.
Human Resources Managers
Human resources managers plan, coordinate, and direct the administrative functions of an organization.
Human Resources Specialists
Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also handle employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.
Training and Development Managers
Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff.
Training and Development Specialists
Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.
Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$35,060|
For more information about labor relations careers and certification, visit
Related BLS articles
For more information about union membership, read the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Union Membership Annual News Release.
For a career video on labor relations specialists, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Labor Relations Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/labor-relations-specialists.htm (visited ).