Director Labor Relations
Job Posted: 10 February 2020
Company: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Closing Date: Until Filled
Location: Providence, RI


Job Summary

Join the experienced Human Resources team at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the world’s leading institutions of art and design education located in Providence, RI. RISD seeks a Director of Labor Relations to serve as a key member of the College's labor relations teams by providing leadership in developing, achieving and maintaining a high level of support and service in labor relations in collaboration with senior leadership, managers and Human Resources.

The selected candidate will direct and manage the labor relations and employment law functions for RISD, and collaborate with the Director of Employment on the Employee Relations strategy/management for the entire College. This role collaborates with senior leadership to formulate and recommend the labor relations strategy and set and implement the short and long term goals required to attain the strategy. The Director of Labor Relations counsels managers and provides advice on labor and employment law and employee relations issues, as well as researches and identifies employment and employee relations concerns, reviews options, and recommends an appropriate course of action. The selected candidates will represent the College as the central point of and key contact for collective bargaining for nine (9) union contracts. This role coordinates the preparation and planning of negotiations, including the coordination and selection of negotiating teams, the review and analysis of contracts, and the development of proposals aligned to the strategic goals of management. The Director of Labor Relations works with other human resources professionals and managers to administer collective bargaining agreements and to interpret intent, spirit, and terms of each agreement and maintains a positive working relationship with all union officials. The selected individual will be responsible for grievance management, case preparation, representing RISD in arbitration cases, representing RISD in employment law matters and/or engaging internal and external counsel as appropriate.

Essential Functions

  • Formulate and administer RISD labor relations programs and strategy. Collaborate with senior leaders and managers to assess needs and define priorities on an ongoing basis.
  • Administer and ensure compliance with the spirit and the intent of collective bargaining agreements. 
  • Serve as the lead spokesperson in the collective bargaining process. Plan, organize and lead negotiations for original and successor agreements, including understanding, interpreting, and posturing benchmarking data and preparation of collective bargaining proposals.
  • Provide advice, assistance, and advocacy to faculty, staff, and administrators with regard to matters of labor and employment law, including organizing, union elections, campaigns, unfair labor practices, disability, discrimination, investigations, and litigation; recommend legal strategies consistent with and in furtherance of the College’s mission and values. Advise senior officers on action and communication required to comply with federal and state labor and employment law and to promote a positive labor relations climate. 
  • Review, negotiate, and/or draft contracts and other legal documents relating to labor and employment matters, including employment contracts, settlement agreements, and separation /severance agreements.
  • Responsible for the contractual grievance process. Prepare and present the College’s position in labor arbitration, or other third party proceedings, including investigation of facts and research of labor texts and arbitrators' decisions, precedent cases, witness information, and other relevant documents. Represent the College and generate position statements as appropriate.
  • Coordinate and/or conduct investigations into alleged violations of RISD policies, including harassment, discrimination, standards of conduct and other matters of employee and College concern.
  • Promote an environment of positive labor and employee relations through the development of fair and consistent application of Labor Relations strategies. Establish mechanisms to collect employee input and feedback on issues that affect a positive employee climate. Facilitate solutions to a wide variety of complaints including complex employee relations issues. Thoroughly investigate claims, help to mitigate legal risk, mediate disputes to resolution, and follow issues to conclusion. 
  • Build and maintain collaborative working relationships with all union officials. Participates and/or leads joint labor-management committees. 
  • Track labor relations cases and issues in order to identify trends over time. Advise senior management on trends and develop strategies and programs in response to trend data.
  • Stays aware of current legal trends in the labor and employment area and advises senior management on the same.
  • Identify labor relations and employment law training needs throughout the community. Develop and/or deliver training to address these needs as appropriate. 
  • Maintain the Labor Relations portion of the Human Resources web site including posting labor updates. Develop a labor communication strategy working with Media and other RISD departments.


  • Bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor is required.
  • Eight to ten years of relevant experience in labor and employment law which includes extensive experience negotiating multiple collective bargaining contracts, preferably in a higher education setting.
  • Demonstrated success in building and maintaining an effective labor relations program that encourages productive relationships with labor organizations and supports the organizational mission and goals.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of employment and labor laws. 
  • Evidence of the ability to work effectively with ethnically and culturally diverse communities. 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills required; demonstrated experience in contract /policy writing.
  • Working knowledge of MS Office Suite tools to include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Google Suite.


Work Schedule:
35 hours per week, 12 months per year

Employment Status: 
Full-time, Exempt


Documents Needed to Apply:
Cover Letter
Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please upload all required documents.

The successful candidate will be required to meet our pre-employment background screening requirements.

RISD recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to an art and design education. We welcome candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

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