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School of Human Resources & Labor Relations

Managing in a Unionized Organization

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To effectively manage in a unionized organization, leaders must be dedicated to successful contract administration. This includes understanding how to interpret contract language, manage grievances, and prepare for arbitration.

Managing in a unionized organization poses unique challenges that all managers, supervisors, and labor relations leaders must be prepared to meet. Those who pride themselves on successfully managing their unionized organization know this requires that they stay up-to-date on essential competencies. Leading unionized organizations invest in their management teams, knowing the return on investment for continued training is priceless.

Attend Managing in a Unionized Organization and learn to:

  • Utilize proven strategies for expertly administering the labor contract
  • Maintain management rights and avoid giving away what was negotiated in the contract
  • Interpret ambiguous contract language
  • Explain what it takes for a practice to be viewed as a binding "Past Practice"
  • Minimize unnecessary employee grievances
  • Successfully conduct grievance meetings
  • Confidently deal with union stewards and other union employees
  • Prepare for arbitration including formatting briefs to win
  • Find success in leading union companies and its employees


Tina M. Riley, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University (MSU). She is the Director of the School's Human Resource Executive Education program and holds a PhD in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education as ...
Mary A. Bedikian is the former district vice president for the Detroit Region of the American Arbitration Association; she worked for the organization for 28 years. Her extensive experience in ADR spans many sectors, including labor, commercial, construction, international, and employment. She ha...
Greg Freehling, MLIR, is Director of Labor Relations at Arconic/Alcoa and has been in the labor relations field for more than 27 years. He has been in his current role as a corporate labor relations subject matter expert for eighteen years, and previously worked in different U.S. locations in bot...
Michael G. Nowakowski, JD, is an attorney, a mediator, an arbitrator, and educator. He has mediated and arbitrated thousands of disputes in collective bargaining, contract administration, employment discrimination, real estate, and auto lemon law cases. Mike was a Commissioner with the Federal Me...
Eileen M. Wilson, PhD is a faculty member at Michigan State University and has provided stewardship for MSU for 33 years including serving as special assistant in the Office of the President and Board of Trustees for two years, assistant dean of undergraduate education in the Broad College of Bus...
Julie L. Brockman, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. As an outreach instructor, Julie has conducted workshops at local, national and international levels for union organizations and their joint partners. As a consulta...


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