The U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s latest ruling is a small step in the right direction, says IWLA President & CEO Steve DeHaan. The decision gives employers a layer of protection against workplace bargaining micro-units.
In 2011, the board set the stage for micro-units in its Specialty Healthcare decision: Employers had difficulty challenging collective bargaining units because the decisions broadened criteria allowed employees to unionize. The NLRB had allowed exclusions of certain employees from a union, based on the group’s overwhelming “community of interest.”
Since then, the board has made two noteworthy decisions that continue to muddle “community of interest”:
- Earlier in July, the board upheld a petition from a cosmetics and fragrance sales department at a Macy’s department store, citing that the unit “conformed to the departmental lines established by the employer in comprising all of the sales employees in the cosmetics and fragrances department.”
- On July 29, the board rejected a bargaining unit comprised of Bergdorf Goodman shoe sales employees from two different departments, with two distinct operational/administrative lines.
The decision points out that while both units have the same function of shoe sales, that criteria alone does not constitute overwhelming community of interest, given the divided corporate structure and supervision that Bergdorf Goodman has adopted.
There is still a long way to go. Both moves within such close range of each other highlights the ambiguity of the 2011 ruling and, once again, leaves employers at the mercy of these tedious NLRB rulings. IWLA is staying abreast on any other cases that may provide more clarification on this issue.