NLRB Rule Would Permit Multiple Bargaining Units at Same Company

Posted by Mike Rudman on Feb 22, 2011 8:59:00 AM

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may use a narrow case involving nursing-home workers to establish rules allowing unions to organize small groups - as few as five to 10 employees - at individual workplaces.

NLRBThe Board’s decision in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile has the potential to alter how bargaining units are established in six million companies covered by the National Labor Relations Act.  At issue is whether the NLRB will create a presumption that a bargaining unit – the group of employees eligible to vote in a union election and ultimately represented by the union if it wins the election - is appropriate if it consists of all employees performing the same job.

AIM remains concerned that a presumption of an appropriate bargaining unit will allow organizers to create multiple “micro-unions” within the same workplace.  Those multiple bargaining units would create an administrative nightmare for employers who would have to negotiate separate contracts with each group while losing the ability to reassign employees to different jobs within the organization.

“The net effect of the proposal is that it would permit labor unions to carve out potential bargaining units simply on the basis of likely support and forego the current, universally accepted and democratic approach to organizing,” AIM Executive Vice President Brian R. Gilmore said in a letter to the NLRB  opposing the proposal.

“We urge you and your fellow members to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the Board from issuing a decision contrary to current practice, and to continue to evaluate the appropriateness of potential bargaining units on the facts of each individual case.”

The decision could make it easier for unions to organize by cherry picking a unit composed of the subset of employees most likely to organize, regardless of whether those employees constitute a practical unit. 

AIM recommends that employers who may be concerned about the implications of Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile write directly to the NLRB and to elected officials to oppose the initiative. Letters to the NLRB should be directed to:

Hon. Wilma Liebman, Chairman
National Labor Relations Board
1099 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20570-0001

Questions about the case may be directed to Gilmore at or 617.262.1180.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Organized Labor, Labor, NLRB

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