Cornell Roundtable Focuses on Human Resources Opportunities

Apr 21, 2009

Contact:  Jennifer Macera, 607.255.3101,

Cornell Roundtable Focuses on Human Resources Opportunities

Ithaca, NY, April 20, 2009 - Although changes in U.S. labor law dominated the discussion in the HR Executive Roundtable, held in Orlando in March 2009, participants also examined the need to reposition their firms for future
growth opportunities. Organized by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, the roundtable was cosponsored by Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and the HR in Hospitality™ Conference, the nation's foremost human resources conference promoter.

Both the economy and the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) drew the attention of the nineteen participants, most of whom were corporate vice presidents of human resources or principals of law or consulting practices. Although the current HR focus is on careful use of resources, they also discussed the! changes in the competitive landscape.

"For those companies willing to make the investments and take some risks, there's market share to be had," pointed out Jo-Anne Kruse, executive vice president of human resources, Travelport. "We need our HR team to ensure the operating organization is well positioned to meet these unique growth opportunities."

In the meantime, Alan Momeyer, vice president of human resources at Loews Corporation, pointed out that companies must address employee motivation and morale during the economic downturn. "We are conducting a company-wide vulnerability audit, to identify areas of concerns among our employees. Then we can dedicate attention and resources to areas where they're needed most."

Roundtable participants agreed that the nearly inevitable prospect of labor law reform will require a renewed emphasis on the human resources function. If adopted, the Employee Free Choice Act would revise the union organization proce! ss. The current law provides for secret ballot after a certain percent age of employees have signed cards in support of a union. However, the new proposal would allow certification of a union without an election, provided a majority of employees sign union cards.

"Employers need to maintain a policy of positive human resources and be sure to communicate constantly with their employees," explained Cornell professor David Sherwyn, who is academic director of the Center for Hospitality Research. "It may be too late to work on communication when a union begins its efforts to organize."

Roundtable participants observed that another reason to establish early communication efforts is that the EFCA proposes to increase penalties against employers for unfair labor practices during an organizing campaign and provides for contract arbitration. Employers generally may not discuss working conditions with employees during a campaign. Consequently, employers need to have their communications policies and information set far in advance.

For more information about future roundtables at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, please visit

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 77 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit
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