Lessons in Labor Relations: Navigating U.S. Labor Relations

Unions have been the only powerful and effective voice working people have ever had in the history of this country. - Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss.”




There has been a notable uptick in union organizing across various sectors, including those not traditionally unionized, such as education and service industries. This resurgence is partly driven by younger workers seeking more inclusive and equitable workplaces, concerns about job security in the face of fast-advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence, and a desire for increased flexibility and wages.

This program focuses on current events and trends that managers and labor relations professionals who want to effectively navigate the complexities of contemporary U.S. labor relations, must understand.

All sessions are an interactive and focused 90-minutes and include opportunities to network with other participants.

Covering critical areas such as increased union organizing activity, changes in organizing strategies, and the importance of workplace culture, this program equips managers and labor relations professionals to foster positive employee relations, ensure legal compliance, and contribute to a supportive and productive work environment.

With the unique inclusion of a module that provides insights into the views of unions and interaction with other labor relations and management professionals, this is the one program labor relations professionals should attend to gain a holistic understanding and practical skills for today’s dynamic labor relations environment.



  • Day One: Understanding the current context of U.S. labor relations

    Objectives: Explore the resurgence in union interest in the United States and the driving factors behind it.

    Content: From the political arena to the workplace, the labor relations landscape has changed considerably over the past several years. Understanding these developments is important to effectively manage in your work environment, whether unionized or not. We'll explore where we came from to how we got here today, and the many factors behind these changes. Learn about the changing demographics of the workforce, the changing political and legal climate, and what to consider when managing in a union environment or one in which unionization is a real possibility.

  • Day Two: Maintaining a Positive Workplace Culture

    Objectives: Gain greater insight into employees and the concerns and challenges that they bring to work each day. Identify actionable ways to help employees address these concerns and challenges so they can really focus and bring their best selves to the work.

    Content: There's growing recognition of the importance of fostering a positive workplace culture to facilitate performance and enhance retention. Employers who invest in understanding and meeting the needs of their workforce can mitigate the risk of labor disputes and enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Day Three: Lessons from the Other Side

    Objectives: Learn about U.S. labor relations from the perspective of unions.

    Content: Gain important insight into how unions view U.S. labor relations, the power imbalance in the workplace, and the concerns of workers and unions. These insights serve as a framework for understanding U.S. labor laws, HR policies, and contemporary U.S. labor relations.



Upon completion, participants will be adept at:

  • Understanding the influences impacting the union and non-union workforce.
  • Fostering a positive workplace culture.
  • Understanding the perspectives of unions and workers to enhance dialogue and negotiation.
  • Utilizing networking opportunities to enrich labor relations knowledge and professional connections.



This focused program is designed for labor relations professionals, managers, and other leaders aiming to master modern challenges and opportunities of contemporary labor/management relations.



Certifed Labor Relations Leader

Exclusively designed for labor relations managers and leaders.

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July 1, 8, & 15, 2024

Meeting Mondays
1:00pm - 2:30pm ET
Live Interactive Program via Zoom




  • 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.


Greg Freehling

Greg Freehling, MLIR has been leading and managing the relationships and accountability required to create successful labor outcomes for over 30 years. He was the Director of Labor Relations for Arconic at his retirement. In this role, he was accountable for the global labor relations for the corporation. His career spans plant and corporate responsibilities across Alcoa and its spin-off Arconic, as a labor relations manager, human resources manager, and corporate labor relations consulting and administration duties. He is a subject matter expert with an extensive background in contract administration, grievance and arbitration advocacy and contract negotiations. He has provided training, advice, and counsel across Alcoa and Arconic locations in the U.S., Canada and Europe. He's developed and conducted labor relations training programs for labor relations and line supervisors and leaders, and managed stakeholder communications before and during negotiations. In addition, he has been teaching courses for the School of Human Resources and Industrial Relations Professional Development program for the past eight years.

Michelle Kaminski

Michelle Kaminski, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. She works primarily in the area of labor education, teaching workshops for union members and leaders on a wide range of topics including labor law, stewards training, collective bargaining, union leadership, workplace bullying, communication skills, FMLA, and basic economics.

Professor Kaminski received the 2010 Wurf Fellowship from the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School for her work on gender and union leadership. She was editor of the Labor Studies Journal, the top academic journal in labor education. Previously, she was a bargaining unit chair with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Local 35, now part of CWA. She also served as University Vice President (program chair) of the United Association for Labor Education (UALE).

Tina M. Riley

Tina M. Riley, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. She holds a PhD in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education, with a concentration in Communications, and a Master of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University.

Dr. Riley 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.

She adopts an engaging and holistic approach to teaching that 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 on a variety of HR and leadership topics including communications, leadership development, managing change, diversity and inclusion, 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, Nigeria have participated in her workshops.

One or more instructors listed above will be teaching


  • Registration will close 2 business days before the start of the program or earlier if program enrollment reaches capacity.



  • 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
  • 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.

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 4 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.