incorporate a "Labor Organization Representative" job title
category in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook
Proposal submitted May 30,
2003 by Lincoln Cushing (Electronic Outreach Librarian, Institute of
Industrial Relations Library, U.C. Berkeley), with support from Terence
K. Huwe (Director of Library & Information Resources, Institute of
Industrial Relations Library, U.C. Berkeley).
Printable pdf of this document here.
1. What's in a Name?
To those in professions of
cataloging and classifying, the absence or presence of accurate subject
headings can mean the difference between access and obscurity.
Within every facet of this craft certain institutions emerge as the
authoritative source for standardized nomenclature. For bibliographic
work, it is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. For
human resources and labor studies, the official reference has been the Occupational Outlook
Handbook (OOH) published biannually by the U.S. Department of
Labor, and its predecessor, the United States Department of Labor
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) , last revised 1991.
“The DOT was created by the Employment and Training
Administration. It is a standard reference in several types of cases
adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Law Judges, especially
labor-related immigration cases.”
Although these documents were
the product of lengthy research and review by numerous professionals, they nonetheless
inevitably contained weaknesses and oversights. A similar situation
occurred in the early 1970s when librarian Sanford Berman and others noted serious
flaws in the Library of Congress Subject Headings, many of
which were eventually changed. After reviewing the existing
occupational titles existing within the OOH, I have a concluded
that an entire genre of occupations that exist within labor unions is
absent, and I would suggest that now is the time to rectify that.
2. The Current Descriptive Gap.
The University of California,
Berkeley’s Institute of Industrial Relations Library started a project
in 2002 that put full text union contracts on the web. As part of that
process, each contract is assigned relevant catalog information,
including occupations of the workers represented in the contract. As an
authority control source for this information we used DOL’s OOH,
issued since the 1940s and available in print and electronic format.
The OOH listings are
built from the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system, used
by all Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into
occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or
disseminating data. All workers are classified into one of over 820
occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate
classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96
minor groups, and 449 broad occupations. Each broad occupation includes
detailed occupation(s) requiring similar job duties, skills, education,
Professional, Technical, and
00/01 OCCUPATIONS IN ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, AND SURVEYING
This division includes
occupations concerned with the practical application of physical laws
and principles of engineering or architecture for the development and
utilization of machines, materials, instruments, structures, processes,
and services. Typical specializations are research, design,
construction, testing, procurement, production, operations, and sales.
Also includes preparation of drawings, specifications, and cost
estimates, and participation in verification tests.
001 ARCHITECTURAL OCCUPATIONS
001.061-010 ARCHITECT (profess. & kin.)
001.061-014 ARCHITECT, MARINE (profess. & kin.) alternate titles:
architect, naval; naval designer
001.061-018 LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT (profess. & kin.) alternate titles:
community planner; environmental planner; land planner; site planner…
Clerical and Sales
Agricultural, Fishery, Forestry, and Related Occupations
[… and so on.]
The DOT used a
similar, but much larger (over 12,000 codes) title set; these are some
sample “A” listings:
Abalone Diver (fishing &
able-bodied seaman (water trans.)
ABLE SEAMAN (water trans.)
abrading machine tender (electron. comp.)
ABRASIVE-BAND WINDER (nonmet. min.)
abrasive-blasting equipment operator (any industry)
ABRASIVE-COATING-MACHINE OPERATOR (nonmet. min.)
ABRASIVE GRADER (optical goods)
The problem we have run up
against is that we cannot properly classify the occupational titles for
union contracts involving those who work within unions in many common
occupations. For example, there is nothing in the OOH under
“Union;” entries skip from “uniform-force captain (government ser.)” to
“unit assembler (machinery mfg.) “ Likewise, “Labor” yields no
entries. Even the more generic categories of “business agent” and
“organizer” are skipped (see following example of indexed titles).
(metal prod., nec)
business agent (amuse. & rec.)
business and financial counsel (profess. & kin.)
organ transplant coordinator
Organ Tuner, Electronic (any industry)
ORIENTAL-RUG REPAIRER (any industry)
The closest possible job title
is “Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Managers and
Specialists,” but the description is very heavily oriented towards a
skill set and work environment that addresses the needs of management -
e.g., “When a collective bargaining agreement is up for negotiation,
labor relations specialists prepare information for management to use
during negotiation...” The only concession to those that perform
related duties for unions is the statement “Labor relations specialists
who work for unions perform many of the same functions on behalf of the
union and its members.”
3. The Opportunity for Change.
Fortunately, these resources
are publicly accountable and open to change. The foreword of the
current DOT states “The revision has enhanced information
contained in the occupational definitions in response to user feedback.
A number of new occupations have also been added that were originally
identified by DOT users and given temporary codes and titles under the
Occupational Code Request program. We thank previous users for these
improvements. We hope that users of this revised Fourth Edition will
continue to help us keep the DOT up to date.” Rather than make
changes to the current OOH, the Department of Labor is creating
a new reference, O*NET
(Occupational Information Network). Whereas the
OOH had approximately 800 occupational titles, O*NET has
4. Model language examples from Canada and the Economic Policy
Canada's National Occupational
Classification system lumps together "labour organization negotiator,"
"labour organization business agent," "labour union liaison officer,"
and "labour organizer" all under the catch-all classification 1121,
"Specialists in Human Resources".
1121 Specialists in Human
Specialists in human
resources develop, implement and evaluate human resources and labour
relations policies, programs and procedures and advise managers and
employers on personnel matters. Specialists in human resources are
employed throughout the private and public sectors, or they may be
business agent, labour organization
compensation research analyst
consultant, human resources
employee relations officer
employment equity officer
human resources research officer
labour relations officer
sources in the U.S. also include a relevant title.
The Economic Research Institute Salary Assessor lists "union
as an occupation:
Union Business Representative
ERI code: 3122
Alternate Titles (none)
Manages business affairs of labor union.
-Coordinates and directs such union functions as promoting local
membership, placing union members on jobs, arranging local meetings,
and maintaining relations between union and employers and press
-Visits work sites to ensure management and labor employees adhere to
union contract specifications.
-May assist in developing plant production and safety and health
-May negotiate with management on hours, wages, individual grievances,
and other work-related matters affecting employees.
5. Recommendation: Adopt new model language.
The Economic Policy Institute’s
description of a “Union Business Representative” encompasses a broad
variety of tasks that are performed by labor union employees.
However, it is too restrictive in the scope of the occupations it
encompasses, and we have revised it as follows:
Alternate Titles (Labor Organizer, Union
Organizer, Labor Business Representative, Union Business Representative)
Manages business affairs of labor organization.
-Coordinates and directs such labor organization functions as promoting
local membership, placing members on jobs, arranging local meetings,
and maintaining relations between labor organizations and employers.
-Participates in the planning and implementation of organizing
-Contributes to electoral and other political advocacy on behalf of the
interests of working people.
-Visits work sites to ensure management and employees adhere to
contractual specifications and labor codes.
-May assist in developing plant production and safety and health
-May engage in collective bargaining with management on hours, wages,
individual grievances, and other work-related matters affecting
We recommend that O*Net adopt
this language. Given the consideration that there are many
citizens employed in this line of work, it strikes us as highly
advisable to revise the index accordingly.