Certified Labor Relations Leader Certification

LEADERSHIP IS THE CAPACITY TO TRANSLATE VISION INTO REALITY. - Warren Bennis, American scholar and pioneer of Leadership studies



    We offer two Certified Labor Relations programs designed to help you at different stages of your career. If you are not sure which one is right for you, ask yourself the following questions.

    Click on each true statement about yourself. The column with the most check marks will be the program best suited to meet your needs.

    Certified Labor Relations Professional

    If you have more check marks in this column, the CLRP is the program for you.

    Take me to the CLRP program

    Certified Labor Relations Leader

    If you have more check marks in this column, you are in the right place!

    Continue below to learn more about the CLRL program.


The Certified Labor Relations Leader (CLRL) professional development program is tailored exclusively for labor relations managers and leaders and brings together faculty and subject matter experts, with real world experience, to navigate today's complex labor relations environment.

If you or a member of your labor relations team have more than five years of labor relations experience and are in a leadership, managerial, or supervisory role - the CLRL program will provide you with leading-edge insights and skills to lead the labor relations function with confidence.

Core Program Objectives:

  • Develop advanced expertise in labor relations
  • Hone your leadership skills
  • Foster relationship building
  • Stay current with emerging labor relations trends and prepare your organization for the future of work



SESSION 1: September 9 & 10

  • Leading the Labor Relations Function in today's changing environment

    The program begins with a comprehensive examination of the differences between leading the LR function and "doing"”" the LR function and the competencies required of successful LR leaders. You will gain a rich understanding of how being an LR leader requires a different mindset, a different way of thinking, and a long-term, strategic perspective. We will discuss the current labor relations landscape and why it is important to understand the forces changing labor relations in the 21st century.

  • Gaining a Global Perspective

    Are you prepared to excel in a rapidly evolving global workplace? In this module, we will delve into the essential differences between US labor relations and the practice of labor relations in other countries. You will not only gain a comprehensive understanding of the key differences but also unlock the vital concepts needed to foster successful labor relations when collaborating with a diverse, international workforce.

  • Leadership

    In this module, you will sharpen your communication skills, ensuring you can convey your vision with clarity and inspire your teams to achieve extraordinary results. You will develop the critical thinking skills needed to minimize the impact of cognitive biases and navigate the complexities of leading in a unionized organization. Ultimately, this module aims to help you become a transformative leader who drives not only personal success but also inspires and elevates those with whom they work.

SESSION 2: September 16, 17, & 18

  • Contract Negotiations

    Get ready for an engaging and interactive learning experience. This three-day module offers a comprehensive and unique framework that uncovers the powerful connections between collective bargaining strategies, operational and business objectives, combining interest-based and traditional negotiation methods. Gain a strategic mindset that will revolutionize your negotiation approach, aligning it with your organization's goals and objectives. You'll gain these skills as you dive into a realistic mock negotiation exercise, working with your team to tackle challenging issues to negotiate an agreement that delivers a competitive advantage and a sustainable future.

SESSION 3: September 23 & 24

  • Dispute Resolution

    Business leaders and plant managers may want you to take every case to arbitration. As an LR leader, you know that's a strategic decision that includes consideration of multiple factors, including when to settle. In this module, you will learn best practices to avoid grievances, gain an advanced understanding of the legal landscape of labor arbitration and the art of selecting labor arbitrators. You will craft an opening statement and engage in a powerful mock arbitration case to hone your ability to win at arbitration.

SESSION 4: September 30 & October 1

  • Labor Law Update

    This module begins with an important review of key union and employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Engage in robust discussion regarding recent changes in both labor law and labor relations, why these changes matter, and their implications for your organization. These discussions will ensure you and your organization stay current with the ever-changing NLRB direction and guidance.

  • Personal and Organizational Change

    In this highly acclaimed module, you will learn about the theory and practice of personal change, and why it's important for LR leaders to understand. Through a comparison of the Sigmoid Curve and the Kübler-Ross Change Curve you will understand the personal change process before moving into an exploration of the organizational change process necessary for individual and organizational success.

  • Social media and interacting with the media

    The media is everywhere, and labor relations leaders need to be prepared to respond to media requests and the reporter standing on the sidewalk in front of the plant, the school building, or corporate headquarters. Learn how to identify the best spokesperson for your organization, identify who should, and who should not, talk with the media, explore strategies for handling difficult questions and learn how to create and deliver effective messages.

SESSION 5: October 7 & 8

  • High-Performance Work Systems (HPWS) and Labor Relations

    In this module, you will be introduced (or re-introduced) to high performance workplace systems and related management processes designed to achieve exceptional performance and the delivery of innovative products and services. From the historical underpinnings to the building blocks of HWPS, you will learn about the high-involvement, commitment-based HR and LR policies and practices essential to the effective application of these systems and processes and what they mean for labor relations.

  • Capstone Project Report Outs

    This program includes a unique capstone project, providing participants with the opportunity to apply new learning and freshly honed skills in their organization. Throughout the program, participants will be encouraged to look for opportunities to apply the concepts covered during the program to opportunities and challenges facing their organization. The class concludes with participants sharing which concepts they used, how they applied the concepts, and the organizational impact of their efforts.



Professional credentials are more important today than ever before. Earning your professional certification from MSU's School of Human Resources & Labor Relations, one of the best and most respected Human Resources/Labor Relations Schools in the country, demonstrates mastery of content and commitment to the field of labor relations.

Stay up to date in this ever-changing field through biannual recertification. MSU's recertification program provides recognition and validation for lifelong learning and professional development in which HR professionals regularly engage.



Individuals who successfully complete the program and capstone project will earn their certification and will be recognized by Michigan State University's School of Human Resources & Labor Relations as a Certified Labor Relations Leader. They are entitled then to use the designation CLRL after their name.

They should expect a notification with their certificate via email two- to three-weeks after the completion of the program.



Certified Labor Relations Professional

Developing the next generation of labor relations professionals 

Learn more

Negotiating Labor/Management Agreements for Competitive Advantage

Prepare for your upcoming contract negotiations

Learn more



September 9 - October 8, 2024

Meeting on Mondays and Tuesdays
1:00pm - 5:00pm ET*
Live Interactive Program via Zoom





  • This is a 5-week program primarily meeting on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1:00pm - 5:00pm ET
    • Week 1: Monday, September 9 & Tuesday, September 10, 2024
    • Week 2: Monday, September 16, Tuesday, September 17 & Wednesday, September 18, 2023
      • *Negotiation week meeting times: 8:30am - 4:30pm ET
    • Week 3: Monday, September 23 & Tuesday, September 24, 2024
    • Week 4: Monday, September 30 & Tuesday, October 1, 2024
    • Week 5: Monday, October 7 & Tuesday, October 8, 2024
  • All of our classes include strategies to maximize learning and ensure an enjoyable, informative learning experience.

MSU employee discount & education assistance available. Please contact Kristi White at whitekr@msu.edu for more information.


Mary A. Bedikian

Mary A. Bedikian, JD, is the former District Vice President, Detroit Region, of the American Arbitration Association, an organization for which she worked for 28 years. Her extensive experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) spans many sectors and includes training mediators and arbitrators in both the process and substance of ADR. Ms. Bedikian is an instructor for Administering the Labor Contract, Managing Grievances, and Preparing for Arbitration.

Greg Freehling

Greg Freehling, has developed labor relations expertise during a 30-year career in plant, business, and corporate labor relations roles for Alcoa and its spinoff, Arconic. He retired from corporate life as the Director of Labor Relations for Arconic. He has been teaching with Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations since 2013, creating and conducting labor relations training programs for the School. He graduated from the program with a Master’s degree in 1990.

As Arconic’s Director of Labor Relations he was accountable for the labor relations function for the corporation. He has led and managed the relationships and efforts required to create successful labor outcomes. In addition to redesign efforts and multiple stand-alone contract negotiations, he and his team also negotiated the master contract between Arconic and the United Steelworkers.

He is a subject matter expert with an extensive background in leading cost improvement initiatives, contract negotiations, managing stakeholder communications, contract administration, as well as grievance and arbitration advocacy. He has negotiated with various unions in the US and Canada, including the United Steelworkers, United Autoworkers, and International Association of Machinists. He has provided training, advice, and counsel across Alcoa and Arconic locations in the US, Canada, and Europe.

He has been affiliated with Michigan State’s School of Human Resources since 2013 as an Adjunct Professor. In this role he has developed and conducted labor relations training programs for labor practitioners and line leaders. These programs include customized programs for specific clients and open enrollment programs for a broader population.

In addition to teaching for the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Greg continues to provide consulting expertise and training programs through his consulting firm, Brison Taylor LLC. Its goal is to help organizations looking to improve their labor relations skill sets and operational efficiency.

Joan Hill

Joan Hill, JD, practiced law for 13 years with a small union-side law firm in Southern West Virginia before taking a position in the legal department of the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers’ Union in Nashville, Tennessee. She was the Director of Research and Education for PACE and after the merger, remained in the Education Department of the United Steelworkers International Union in both Nashville and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As an educator, she mostly taught legal subjects including ADA, FMLA, labor law, and labor arbitration.

Before retiring in Alabama, Ms. Hill served as the Southern Board Representative for the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) and on the Steering Committee for the Labor and Employment Committee of the National Lawyers’ Guild. Since retirement, Joan has been approved by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Roster of Arbitrators, as a neutral to resolve labor disputes in both the private and public sectors.

Tina M. Riley

Dr. Tina M. Riley, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University and served as the School's Director of Professional Development and Associate Director for 20 years.

She is a results-based educator and executive coach with expertise helping individual leaders, and organizations, achieve their full potential through high-impact communications that build trust and promote inclusion and engagement.

Her engaging and holistic approach to teaching facilitates learners' ability to move from theory to practice. Her teaching style makes complex concepts accessible to graduate students and seasoned professionals alike. Dr. Riley teaches academic and professional development classes including leadership and interpersonal skills development, labor relations, developing inclusive workplaces and conducting workplace investigations.

With her passionate and engaging style, Dr. Riley develops and presents customized leadership development programs for both public and private sector organizations, from manufacturing to the courts. Organizational leaders and HR professionals from across the globe including Bahrain, Cameroon, Canada, Georgia, India, and Nigeria report finding her programs to be highly beneficial both for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Dr. Riley holds a Ph.D. in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education, with a concentration in Communications, and a Master of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University.

One or more instructors listed above will be teaching


  • Registration closes 2 business days before the start of the program.



  • Cancellation fees may be waived if the participant registers and attends the same program within 12 months. Fees may only be waived once.
  • Participants may send a substitute from the same organization for the same program and date by notifying Kristi White via email at least 5 calendar days in advance of program start date.
  • Cancellation more than 30 calendar days before program start date: full refund.
  • Cancellation 14 – 29 calendar days prior to program start date: 50% cancellation fee, remainder of program fee refunded.
  • Cancellation 13 or fewer calendar days prior to program start date: no refund.

MSU reserves the right to cancel programs when enrollment criteria are not met or for conditions beyond its control. Any additional costs incurred by the enrollee of canceled programs are the responsibility of the enrollee.



  • MSU's Federal ID Number is 38-6005984
  • Business casual attire.
  • Please, no audio or video recording.



This program has been approved for 38.5 continuing education credit hours towards Professional Development Program recertification.

Learn more about Recertification


Questions? We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this or any of our training programs. Please contact Director of Professional Development, Melanie Zaremba at mzaremba@msu.edu.