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Labor Relations

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Labor relations can refer broadly to any dealings between management and workers about employment conditions. Most commonly, however, labor relations refers to dealings between management and a workforce that is already unionized, or has the potential to become unionized. Labor relations is thus crucial to industries like autos and airlines with heavily unionized workforces. In the U.S., labor relations were profoundly affected by the National Labor Relations Act, passed during the 1930s, which gave workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. Labor relations have also been importantly affected by passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibited the "closed shop," as well as the introduction of right-to-work laws in more than 20 states. By the early 21st century, labor relations were less affected by labor unions, to which only 8% of private sector workers belonged in 2004, about half of the rate in 1983. The decline reflects the increase in labor relations consultants, who have helped managements avoid unionization.

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