Director of Labor Relations

Brown University

Job Description:

Reporting to the Assistant Vice President for Employee and Labor Relations (AVP), the Director of Labor Relations (Director) provides proactive advice, guidance, and recommendations for appropriate courses of action that arise out of various employment situations involving employees who are members of a collective bargaining unit and other labor-management matters to ensure that departmental priorities are accomplished.

The Director will be critical to developing, growing, and sustaining strong partnerships between UHR and the Administrative and Academic departments and bargaining units throughout the University. The Director will collaborate and influence a diverse group of departments and division leaders, fully understand their strategies, goals, and expectations, and provide thoughtful leadership and guidance on various labor relations matters to increase organizational effectiveness. The Director will also ensure alignment within UHR in managing services and processes that involve unionized employees or their managers and in delivering services and information to the University community. Likewise, they will advance the broader understanding of the relationship between effective HR management and University business functions. The Director will provide managerial oversight for the following roles within Labor Relations:

  • Assistant Director for Labor Relations
  • Labor Relations Data Specialist

In addition, in collaboration with the AVP, the Director will be responsible for the implementation and day-to-day administration of the University’s collective bargaining agreements for unionized employee, including graduate and undergraduate student employees.

The Director and Labor Relations will collaborate with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and other units on related legal matters and will ensure the smooth administration of employee and student grievance and arbitration processes. This position will also work closely with UHR’s Director of Talent Acquisition and other campus partners to help create and sustain an effective student employment model that holistically supports and promotes positive experiences and outcomes for our students (unionized and non-unionized) at Brown.

Major Responsibilities:

  • In collaboration with the AVP, implement and administer the University’s labor relations program for all unions at Brown, to include but not limited to, unions that serve graduate and undergraduate student employees.
  • Support the AVP in planning, organizing, and leading negotiations for successor bargaining agreements, including analysis of benchmarking data and preparation of collective bargaining proposals.
  • Provide expert advice and support to management and staff on labor relations matters in accordance with established Brown policies and procedures, legislative requirements, and existing collective bargaining agreements.
  • Advise client departments in identifying, evaluating, and resolving human resource management issues and disciplinary actions with unionized employees; assist in issue resolution and provide consistent interpretation and application of HR best practices, Brown policies, collective bargaining rules, and employment laws so that managers and supervisors are equipped to effectively supervise unionized employees.
  • Support the AVP in overseeing contractual grievance procedures including counseling department heads and/or designees at steps one and two of the contractual grievance process. Serve as the step three grievance officer, and as the first and second chair for arbitration matters.
  • Provide coaching and counseling to managers and staff to effectively address disciplinary matters among unionized workers. Discuss potential options and assist with risks and rewards of various actions with supervisors and the AVP. Intervene with managers/supervisors when necessary concerning problems that adversely affect employee morale and productivity. Guide supervisors in writing performance improvement plans, probation extensions, disciplinary actions, and fair and balanced performance appraisals when necessary. Advise on and/or negotiate severance and outplacement services for employment separations. Respond to informal and formal grievances from union employees and offer resolution to supervisors and managers following timely investigations of concerns. Lead HR investigations of unionized employees in a thorough, timely, and impartial manner. Take steps to mitigate the influence of bias in HR and operational decisions. Develop strategies and put measures in place to identify, manage, and minimize risks/liability to university (e.g., legal, financial, health, safety, etc.). Identify solutions that address potential risk and provide recommendations on mitigation strategy. Apply critical thinking to information received from clients and evaluate courses of action for risk.
  • Understand the institutional operations, functions, and external environmental factors to support the University’s mission and values by working in close partnership with managers, department heads, bargaining units, and union representatives. Identify opportunities for the design, analysis, and evaluation of change initiatives and build ongoing support for UHR solutions that meet operational needs among unionized units.
  • Collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data to interpret and promote findings that evaluate HR initiatives and inform organization decisions and recommendations among unionized workforces. Lead and/or participate in organizational assessment and planning. In collaboration with the OGC, provide consultation to supervisors to implement employment actions resulting from restructuring, reclassification, compensation, and reductions in force/position. Support managers and staff to improve performance management goals. Partner with UHR colleagues and leaders to implement best practices that address employee and labor relations matters.
  • Support the AVP in representing the University and preparing position statements regarding employment-related charges filed through federal or state agencies as appropriate.
  • Review documents in support of operational decisions to restructure or reorganize departments that mitigate legal risk to the University. Collaborate with UHR departments to conduct timely analysis of staffing, compensation, or benefits data and communicate decisions to department supervisors.
  • Participate in special projects such as HR system implementations, HR reporting on labor matters, systems testing, or other similar functions.
  • Provide primary assistance to the AVP on project work or ongoing needs in areas such as: testing, designing, communicating, and training new users on labor relations software systems; identify needs and delivering appropriate labor-relations training programs for new and existing employees and supervisors; participate in collective bargaining negotiations, mediations or arbitrations; support investigations of EEO/Title IX complaints at the direction of the Office of Equity and Institutional Diversity.
  • As required, serve as the backup to the AVP, for the University’s Labor Strategy Council.
  • Perform special projects and support the establishment and maintenance of labor-relations data as needed.


  • The Director will demonstrate the following competencies to colleagues, students, faculty, and their staff:
  • The ability to collaborate and/or work effectively as a leader or member in teams, taskforces, or committees. Must be able to develop and maintain a pattern of reciprocal exchanges of support, information and other valued resources with colleagues; demonstrates agility and adaptability when project requirements, goals or constraints change.
  • The ability to demonstrate initiative; learn quickly when facing new problems; open to change; display proactive leadership in identifying issues and addressing client needs in a timely manner; serve as a change agent to support organizational change.
  • The ability to motivate a group of people to achieve their common goals; possess the ability to guide, direct, and influence others; promote consensus among stakeholders when proposing new initiative; facilitate communication and decision-making necessary to implement initiatives.
  • The ability to maintain a high level of personal and professional integrity and act as an ethical agent who promotes core values, integrity and accountability throughout the institution; to establish credibility and become a trusted advisor to resolve complex employment matters; to manage political and social pressures when making decisions and when administering HR programs, practices, policies, and collective bargaining agreements; to treat stakeholders with respect and dignity; and to value and consider the perspective and backgrounds of all parties and stakeholders so as to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution/college and a minimum of seven years’ professional-level labor relations experience
  • A broad range of labor relations experience and competencies including practical and functional knowledge in this area, as well as broad human resources competencies
  • Demonstrated proficiency in communication, conflict resolution, analysis and planning, creative problem solving, and consultation
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, sound business judgment, tact and diplomacy, and the ability to interact with employees at all levels of the University
  • Knowledge of federal and state employment laws and regulations (e.g., FLSA, FMLA, ADA) and prior experience in consulting with internal clients on employee and labor relations matters
  • A demonstrated ability to work effectively with university Human Resources staff, management, legal staff, union representatives, and individual employees
  • Demonstrated commitment to implement initiatives that can help managers foster a culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, justice and belonging
  • Expertise and knowledge in navigating complex unionized employee and student-based work environment and negotiations

Preferred Qualifications

  • Prior labor relations experience in higher education, including student labor relations experience
  • Master’s degree and/or Juris Doctor (JD)
  • HR certification on labor relations and/or SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP

A cover letter is required when submitting your application and resume. Please include the cover letter in the attachments section when submitting an application.

Background check: criminal and education

Recruiting Start Date:

Job Posting Title:
Director of Labor Relations

University Human Resources

Grade 12

Worker Type:

Worker Sub-Type:

Time Type:
Full time

Scheduled Weekly Hours:

Position Work Location:
Hybrid Eligible

Submission Guidelines:
Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any staff position at Brown University you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.

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As an EEO/AA employer, Brown University provides equal opportunity and prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation based upon a person’s race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other characteristic protected under applicable law, and caste, which is protected by our University policies.

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