Micro-Units Now a Reality: 2nd and 5th Floor Shoe Departments Ruled a Voting Unit.
I’m posting this press release from an email I received from OliverBell because this is an important development in labor relations. I have posted on the topic of micro units before. Here is another perspective.
It is official!! Micro-units do exist at least in Region 2 of the National Labor Relations Board. Citing Specialty Healthcare (an August 2011 precedent setting decision authorizing micro-units), Region 2 Director Karen Fernbach signed the Decision and Direction of Election (Case No. 02-RC-076954) in early May authorizing an election of the 2nd floor Women’s Designer Shoe associates and the 5th floor Women’s s Contemporary Shoe Sales associates at the Bergdorf Goodman retail location in Manhattan. There has been an eerie silence as neither the Board or unions have publicized this decision.
Specialty Healthcare, 357 NLRB No. 83 (Aug. 26, 2011) is a ruling that set over 40 years of labor law precedent on its head. One of the historic precedents had been the Board’s 1957 decision in Bullock’s, Inc. d/b/a I. Magnin & Co., 119 NLRB No. 86 (1957) which states:
The Board has long regarded a storewide unit of all selling and nonselling employees as a basically appropriate unit in the retail industry… Smaller units of retail clothing store employees are appropriate when comprised of craft or professional employees or where departments composed of employees having a mutuality of interests not shared by other store employees are involved. … the record herein fails to establish any craft or professional skills or status among the shoe salesmen and it does not show that the skills, duties, interests, and conditions of employment of those employees are sufficiently different from those of other employees to warrant their establishment in a separate unit on any other basis.
Regarding this NLRB decision, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) stated
Micro unions in any place of business cause discord and are a way to upset an organization that otherwise is not upset. There is not a problem as far as unions being able to organize, but there is a huge problem in that the labor board continues to try to overturn decades’ worth of labor laws that have served us well in order to tip the scales in favor of labor unions.
So all past rules are out the window. It remains to be seen how quickly other Regional Offices begin to issue similar decisions. Should you expect expect the emergence of potential small units in your workplace? Might a union approach and attempt to organize your company piecemeal? Based on this decision, the answer is yes..
We encourage all employers to pay attention as the situation continues to develop.