The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) typically followed certain standards regarding barganing units which could be represented by a union. Those standards were employed to provide a common sense ground for bargaining between a union and an employer (by assuring that members of a bargaining unit share a “community of interest”) and to prevent a proliferation of bargaining units.
Last year, in a departure from years of fairly consistent behavior, the NLRB bypassed those standards and allowed a union to seek through election a bargaining unit at a healthcare facility of only certified nurse assistants, a “micro unit” (the obvious impact is to make it easier for a union to win a representation election).
In an effort to prevent the NLRB from carrying this departure to extremes (imagine a workplace where different unions represent different job classes rather than the typical “production and maintenance”-type units which have been found as appropriate units for bargaining in the past), the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act late last year, but the bill has been languishing in the Senate (S. 1843). Employers have a huge stake in the outcome here. Interested employers should certainly contact their Senators and, in the meantime, should speak with legal counsel and understand that the NLRB has departed from consistently applied standards and may do so again.
For additional guidance on this or other Employment and Labor issues, please contact John B. Bechtol at (412) 918-1115.