Labor Relations Leadership
Harry Katz, the Jack Sheinkman Professor of Collective Bargaining and director of ILR’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, recently completed a term as president of the Labor Employment Relations Association (LERA). Founded in 1947, the organization provides a unique forum where the views of representatives of labor, management, government and academics, advocates and neutrals are welcome. In an interview, Katz talked about his leadership roles in the organization.
Did you have particular goals you wanted to achieve during your tenure as president?
A key initiative was to foster a better dialogue between the academic members and the practitioners among the national organization and local chapters of LERA.To that end, I made a point of visiting 12 of our local chapters.This was very useful and I received comments not only about the organization itself, but also on the current state of labor relations in the country. Not surprisingly, I heard concerns about how private sector union membership is stagnant. On a more promising note, there is a lot of organizing resulting in new forms of collective representation among NGOs and other groups.
How involved is the Scheinman Institute with LERA?
One of the highlights of my tenure was the recent national meeting of LERA, which featured several of the Scheinman faculty presenting reports based on their research. In addition, Marty Scheinman generously supported the conference by underwriting the welcoming reception. I also want to mention that Ariel Avgar, the associate director of the Institute, serves as LERA’s editor-in-chief.
You were recently voted president-elect of the International Labor and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) at its World Congress in Seoul, South Korea. This is the first time that a faculty member from Scheinman and ILR has been honored in this fashion. When does your tenure as president begin?
I assume the presidency in 2021 and, as part of my portfolio, I have the privilege of organizing the 2024 World Congress to be held in the United States. This will involve selecting the host city, developing the topics and speakers, and other planning responsibilities. Part of ILERA’s mission is to provide scholarships for those attending our events from developing countries, so fundraising to support this goal will also be an important part of my agenda.
How is ILERA impacting work nationally and internationally?
ILERA is a unique organization that brings together employer, worker, government, academic and NGO representatives. We are associated with the International Labour Organization, which is part of the United Nations. There are national-level LERA chapters in every major country. For many of the developing countries ILERA plays a particularly critical role in sharing the latest information about labor relations issues and best practices, communicating insights from academic research and in some cases, providing technical assistance.