With globalization and the strides made with computers, the Industrial Relations field has become very complex. But when you cut all that away, you still have the basic players: industry, labor and the government of whatever country is home to that company. And the goals, though more complex as well, are the same as they were at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution: the maintenance of good relations between labor and management.
With few exceptions, employers can both hire and fire workers. They can also adapt to the latest technologies without the workers' approval, even though it may result in a diminished workforce. It can also consolidate its operation into another entity, relocate and merge with others without labor's approval.
The labor-force should always look for improvements in their working conditions and the terms of their employment. Where possible, they are empowered to share decisions with management as well as make their grievances known. They also can form unions to represent them. Those unions have the tacit approval of workers that evens the playing field in their negotiations.
Each state and federal government has labor laws that affect both management and workers within its jurisdiction. Each of them regulates the relationship between labor and management and promulgates laws in support of unity between the two parties. In the United States, there is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that mediates disputes between labor and management.
Inherent Adversarial Positions
There will always be conflicting points of view between management and its workers. First, management is motivated by profit and workers by social gain. Furthermore, the agendas of workers and unions often are at odds, creating further difficulty for management as it works toward a satisfactory relationship.
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