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MacPherson Links Strategies

Excellence in Labor Relations Bob MacPherson Lockheed Martin Corp., Palmdale To succeed in the human resources field, one needs a good knowledge and understanding of the various disciplines of labor relations, benefits, employee training and leadership as well as compensation. But that is only half of what’s needed especially working for a global aerospace company such as Lockheed Martin Corp. as Bob MacPherson has done for more than 20 years. One also needs good business sense and understanding of what their employer does in the business world. “That way you can then link your human resources strategy to your business strategy,” MacPherson said. Wanting to put his degree in labor and industrial relations to use, MacPherson entered the human resources profession more than 30 years ago. He initially was involved in dealing with union business agents on grievance issues, arbitrating disputes and negotiating contracts before branching out into the other areas. MacPherson has benefitted from working at Lockheed Martin through its opportunities offered through its different business units. He started in New Hampshire in the electronic division before locating to California first in Ontario and then in Palmdale where the company keeps aircraft developed there a closely guarded secret. When a company the size of Lockheed wins an important contract, it is up to human resources to bring on the best staff in a timely manner. Conversely, during downturns in the economy, the company needs to cut employees but do it in a way that shows respect and treats them well. “That way when business does pick up they’ll want to come back to work for you,” MacPherson said. With Lockheed, MacPherson has created training programs that earned the Partnership Excellence Award from California Community Colleges; received the Gold Knight of Management Award by the National Management Association; and developed a management-labor training program focused on progressive supervisory practices. One issue that MacPherson faces is a workforce comprised of multiple generations. When he started in the profession, it was only Baby Boomers focused on their careers. Today, younger people have different expectations from their employer. To that end, MacPherson and Lockheed constructed a work schedule of 40 hours over a 9-day period with every other Friday off. The schedule has proved popular with all employee age groups and not just the young. “That is a morale booster for us and a good example of how we blend all the different generations,” MacPherson said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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