Tamara Jones is our most recent HR professional to feature their profile in our growing database. She has worked in labor relations for the past few years in Minneapolis. She considers her top 3 skills to be: labor relations, employee relations and workplace investigations.
Hire her for: DE&I, Labor Relations, Employee Relations, Workplace Investigations
We asked her a few questions over email to expand on her experience.
What’s been your Biggest accomplishment in HR?
A newly organized unit negotiating a contract from nothing to a contract that benefited both employer and workers.
Which project from your past work are you most proud of?
A presentation to a national conference about LGBTQAI+ issues in traditional (packinghouses, slaughterhouses, manufacturing) workforces
What’s it been like working with unions during Covid?
It has been challenging. Union contracts exist to ensure that both employers and workers have a set of rules/guidelines to follow with regards to employment. Both employers and unions have had to work together to adapt contract language to situations that a contract may never have contemplated before.
For example, extreme staffing needs that require people to work out of classification. Because pay scales are generally tied to the job duties, having a paraprofessional do custodial duties brought into question whether they should be paid custodial wages (which are higher) or their normal paraprofessional wages. Obviously, an employer can't afford to pay higher wages for an extended period of time, but the contract language also says that employees who work in a higher classification shall receive the higher pay. What to do?
Your first response: talk to your union representative. During the pandemic, we had to make contract language flexible and work through the unique situation. The union is getting feedback from its members and communicating with them. They may have heard ideas that could work or know what other contracts are doing with similar language. Never assume the union will say no, but engage in dialogue with them and bring them into the problem solving. Be open to creative solutions.
Just like when you are dealing with any third-party vendor, sometimes the answer will have to be no, for a wide variety of reasons. And sometimes, you will have to do what is best for your company. But by having engaged the union in the process, the likelihood of a solution being found is much greater than if you thrust a decision upon them.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job today?
The most satisfying part of my job has always been building power for workers in the workplace through collaboration and consensus. Even the most non-union employer has benefitted from the gains workers have won - child labor laws, overtime rules, OSHA regulations - all of these have made workplaces stronger and safer. To me, everyone is a worker, whether you're the CEO or on the production line. To quote Paul Wellstone, "we all do better when we all do better." Or to put it more simply: a rising tide floats all boats.
What's a fun fact you want people to know about you?
I love to cook and once appeared on my local PBS television station presenting my recipe for beef stroganoff in a show called "B is for Beef" and was subsequently published in the "B is for Beef" cookbook.
To contact Tamara about job opportunities please register as an employer to see her email address listed on her profile.