Finkelstein focuses in on broad significance of employment relations

Marv Finkelstein, sociology professor, is interested in ways the field can be applied to create change and solve problems—specifically in employment relations.

“At the workplace exists the employment organization as a whole and my main emphasis is on labor management relations,” Finkelstein said.  “It is important that when labor and management work together cooperatively they are much more successful, and they make a much better contribution to the community.

Finkelstein said he looks forward to presenting his paper titled, “Labor Management Cooperation in the Construction Industry,” in Chicago this August.

Professor Marv Finkelstein said he finds it fulfilling to discover ways that applied sociology can solve community problems. Photo courtesy of Finkelstein.

“I’m excited about it,” Finkelstein said. “This is an area I’m interested in.”

Before the American Sociological Association (ASA), he will present six cases or projects in construction from the Southwest Illinois region.

Finkelstein co-authored the paper with researcher and professor of Strategic Management Ronda Sauget of Webster University in St. Louis.

The U.S. has a history of labor management conflict, according to Finkelstein, who has been interested in ways to foster labor management cooperation.

“My focus in this research is called Project Labor Agreements (PLA),” Finkelstein said. “Focusing on the construction industry in Southwestern Illinois, we each looked at six cases or projects in construction in the area. We are trying to increase the awareness of importance of labor and cooperation, and we plan to do that by doing more presentations and meetings with community groups.”

Finkelstein worked with the Labor Management Committee of Southwestern Illinois the past 25 years.  As a member, he helped coordinate the efforts of the committee, held conferences and monthly meetings and seminars to help educate participants in labor management cooperation.

Last week, Finkelstein presented at a monthly meeting before 15 labor manager representatives—those who have experiences as leaders of unions and as managers as well.

Trust, according to Finkelstein, is the key component, [because] without trust there is going to be conflict and misunderstanding.

“Trust to work together on a daily basis and communicate and agree to work out differences is important,” he said.

At SIUE, Finkelstein reminds students who go to work in their chosen fields that there are always issues about working conditions–pay, benefits and health and safety– and there are sometimes differences in how to achieve those things.

In the classroom, they look at and analyze cases, and do exercises and simulations. Together they develop a sociological diagnosis of the workplace and make recommendations for change.

“You need skills that help you understand how to address workplace problems whether it be motivation, production, communication and working together in groups and teams,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein added that everyone is likely to become an employee or need a product from organizations from which there are labor management participants.

According to Finkelstein, the more effective the organization is, the higher the quality they can then provide in products and services.

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