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Industrial Relations Department, 1895-1998

Accession: 1411Identifier: 1411-XVII.


  • Creation: 1895-1998

Historical Note

In 1928, the Open Shop Department changed its name to the Industrial Relations Department, more accurately reflecting the work it was doing on worker issues, conditions surrounding the workplace, and related human resource functions.

During the 1940s, there was overlap between the Industrial Relations Department and the National Industrial Council (NIC), specifically the NIC Industrial Relations Group. Material often had to be reviewed by NIC before it could be disseminated.

Over the course of the department’s history, various committees, subcommittees, and task forces were formed, evolved, and dissolved according to the needs of the NAM. In 1988, the department restructured into three policy committees: Employee Benefits and Compensation; Employee Relations; and Risk Management. Additionally, the Human Resources Council was established and dissolved in 1993 due to poor chairman leadership.

In 1994, the Industrial Relations Department changed its name to the Human Resources Policy Department.

Scope and Contents

The Industrial Relations Department was devoted exclusively to worker issues, conditions surrounding the workplace, and related human resource functions. Over the years, committees, subcommittees, and task forces were formed, evolved, and dissolved according to the needs of NAM. This series is comprised of six subseries: Committees, subcommittees, and task forces; Institute of Industrial Relations; Human Resources Council; Conferences and meetings; Internal files; and Subject files. This series should be used in conjunction with the Open Shop Department (Series XXV) and the Human Resources Policy Department (Series XV).

The department had several committees, subcommittees, and task forces that were created, evolved, and dissolved as needed. The Committees, subcommittees, and task forces subseries documents the records from these groups. Some of them include: Chemical Safety, Collective Bargaining, Education and Workforce Readiness, Employee Relations, Employee Training, Health Care, Labor/Management Relations, Multinational Labor Relations, Occupational Safety, and Workers Compensation.

The Education and Workforce Readiness Committee was created in 1993. Within its first year, the committee was deeply involved with both legislative and programmatic activities regarding emerging employer concerns and workforce-related legislation. Under jurisdiction of the Employee Benefits Committee were legal matters relating to employee benefits plans including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, the Social Security Act, the Public Health Service Act, and select sections of the Internal Revenue Code. The subcommittees include Health Care, Pensions, Social Security, Worker’s Compensation, and Unemployment Compensation.

In 1989, the Employee Relations Committee was created by combining the Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Committee and Labor/Management Relations Committee. The primary purpose of the committee was to recommend to the Board of Directors new or revised policy or the elimination of existing policy on employee benefits issues, and review an act on suggestions concerning industry strategies on employee benefit issues of long- or short-term interest to the corporate community. The subcommittees include Labor Law; Employment, Training and Dislocation; Equal Employment Opportunity; Multinational Labor Relations; Unemployment Compensation; and Labor and Employment Law (combined Employment, Training and Dislocation Subcommittee and Equal Employment Opportunity Subcommittee).

The Industrial Relations Committee worked closely with the Industrial Relations Division. The committee’s recommendations were usually adopted by the Board of Directors and then became NAM policy. As with other committees, there were several subcommittees under the purview of the larger committee. These subcommittees include collective bargaining, management relationships, selective service, and wage and salary stabilization policy.

The Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Committee focused on employment and training opportunities, work-family issues, equal employment opportunities, and workplace privacy as well as specific matters that may create a significant impact upon small businesses. The subcommittees and task forces include Plant Closing, Dislocated Workers, Employment and Training, Equal Employment Opportunity, Unemployment Compensation, and Comparable Worth.

The Labor/Management Relations Committee oversaw all matters relating to labor-management relations, including the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Walsh-Healey, and the Service Contract Act. As with other committees, its purpose was to recommend to NAM’s Board of Directors any policy additions, revisions, or eliminations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Committee, Loss Prevention and Control Committee, and Risk Management Committee are three manifestations of the same committee with the same general responsibilities. The committee went through four name changes from its creation in 1963 into the early 1990s: Employee Health/Safety Committee (1963-1974), Occupational Safety and Health Committee (1974-1982), Loss Prevention and Control Committee (1982-1987), and Risk Management Committee (1987-1993). The committee was responsible for worker safety and health, OSHA, workers’ compensation, and product liability issues facing industry.

The Institute of Industrial Relations was started in 1940 as a program designed for those who made policy decisions in the areas of personnel and industrial relations. The Institute was to serve as the premier meeting of the year for labor-management executives. In 1985, it was renamed the Human Resources Forum. The subseries includes materials from several Institutes, dating from 1959 to 1986, and ideas for future meetings.

The Human Resources Council formed in 1988 with the purpose of identifying long-term trends that may impact human resource public policy or internal corporate concerns of manufacturing and providing guidance to Industrial Relations committees on legislative and regulatory priorities. The Council was limited to sixty senior human resources executives, by invitation only. Due to poor chairman leadership and waning interest, the Council dissolved in 1993. This material traces the Council from the beginning to its dissolution. Also included are membership lists, correspondence, mailings, and minutes.

The Conferences and meetings subseries documents both NAM hosted and attended conferences and meetings relevant to the Industrial Relations Department.

The Internal files subseries includes material created and used internally. The files document the daily work of the Industrial Relations Department. They include budget information, planning of Industrial Relations breakfasts, inter-office correspondence, invitations to speak at meetings, and several staff members’ chronological files.

The Subject files subseries consist of files maintained by the Industrial Relations Department on a wide variety of topics and likely used as reference. Several subjects are included, but some of the highly represented ones include: child labor, Civil Rights Act, collective bargaining, drug testing, fair labor standards family and medical leave, health care, immigration, the “mature worker,” plant closings, social security, striker replacement, and unemployment.


From the Collection: 1100 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Additional Description

Access Restrictions

Records subject to 25-year time seal. Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Related Names


Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA