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SHRM 2014 Legislative Conference Recap #SHRMLeg

SHRM 2014 Legislative Conference #SHRMLeg

I attended the 2014 SHRM Employment Law & Legal Conference this week in Washington DC.  This is a great conference, packed with useful concurrent sessions and topical keynote speakers including Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.  The conference is small, intimate and not nearly as overwhelming as the SHRM National events often feel.

It’s really the best way to experience a SHRM conference.  What other HR conference provides the opportunity to speak candidly with a sitting NLRB Board member, or have hallway conversations with Hank Jackson? The answer would be “none”.

There were many different concurrent sessions offering coverage on a variety of topics from mainstream stuff like the EEOC, ACA, workplace bullying, and the NLRB  to more edgy stuff like social media, worker centers and human trafficking.  And there were HR people being HR people, most of them flocking to the mainstream stuff, and a smaller number of brave souls going into the edgier sessions.

Lots of great networking events, parties, the dining of Washington DC, and oh yeah, snow – enough snow to shut down the US Government.  Yet the conference came off without a hitch. Kudos to SHRM for a great event.

I also had a chance to hang out with my peeps, the other great HR professionals who make up the SHRM special expertise panel on labor relations.  We talked about developing trends, potential future topics for HR Magazine, and the state of Labor Relations and HR in general.

Here’s one of the things I floated in our discussions.

Organized labor is experimenting with new types of organizing and other innovations to restore their relevance and credibility.  They are doing this in three ways.

  1. Efforts to change policy and agency rules
  2. Adapting new forms of traditional organizing
  3. utilizing alt labor groups to organize in new ways

Consider the so-called “Organize the South” effort. Viewed piece by piece, you might miss it, but add it up and it reveals an ambitious scope of efforts, including:

  • Local efforts to pass state minimum wage and paid sick leave laws
  • groups like Jobs with Justice acting as local hubs for community organizing
  • Efforts by the UAW  to organize Volkswagen and other southern transplant auto manufacturers
  • Morale Monday protests in more cities
  • AFL-CIO placing resources in Atlanta, Miami, Raleigh and Texas
  • Working America and other community organizing groups are adding resources and trainers in southern cities
  • Growth of the efforts of groups like Raise Up/Fight for $15
  • Organizing of airport employees in cities like Ft. Lauderdale
  • Teamster organizing efforts aimed at truck drivers in Savannah ports
  • Worker Centers active in many southern cities

Of course, as an organization SHRM doesn’t try to fight union organizing.  Our role on the labor panel is to make sure that HR professionals are aware of developing trends in business that could affect our companies. Looking at trends like these is one of those efforts.

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