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Micro Unions Could Be a Major Headache for Businesses
Wednesday, April 29, 2015



The National Retail Federation released a brief Monday warning that now-legal mini unions overturn decades of established labor policy, and could cause widespread chaos.

The brief was in response to a January decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to officially recognize a “micro-union” at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts, and it warns that the decision undermines longstanding precedents on union organizing.

“Now, in this case, the board has extended that unlawful standard to the retail industry, abandoning the board’s half-century-old presumption in favor of whole-store bargaining units and wreaking havoc on the retail workplace,” the brief said.

Micro-unions often refer to the creation of union-like groups for certain employees within a business, as opposed to all the employees of a business.

“The board’s new ‘overwhelming community of interest’ test, in which the board effectively defers to the scope of the unit proposed by the union, is designed to facilitate a pro-union outcome,” the brief continued. “The union proposes only those gerrymandered units that it can win, and the test prevents the inclusion of other employee voters who should be in the unit.”

The idea behind micro-unions can become very problematic for any business with multiple departments, like large retail stores. While places like Macy’s include departments dedicated to clothes, accessories, perfumes and other such consumer products, employees often move among different departments. Additionally, employees are often requires to assist costumers even if it doesn’t relate to their primary duties. The brief argues this will make it difficult to determine which employees belong to which micro-union, since it may not be clear what department they belong to.

“In other words, like all retail stores, the sales employees at this Macy’s store — including the petitioned-for-unit of cosmetics and fragrance employees — function as a single unit,” the brief argues.

“The NLRB’s support for micro-unions will turn workplace cohesion and efficiency on its head and will acutely harm the retail industry,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a statement. “The establishment of micro-unions will erect unnecessary barriers between both employees and opportunities and employees and their customers.”

The NLRB, however, has argued its decision was made because Macy’s refused to bargain with the union, in violation of standing law.

“It is well settled that an alleged post-election loss of majority support is not relevant to the question of whether a union should be certified as the result of a properly conducted board election,” the NLRB stated in its decision, which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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