March 14, 2016 | by  

Appeals Court Upholds NLRB Ruling That Allows Micro-Unions


Last Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s Specialty Healthcare ruling, which set a new standard for determining composition of collective bargaining units. FedEx led the legal challenge to the NRLB, which MSCI and its partners at the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace supported. 

MSCI and CDW believe the standard set in Specialty Healthcare makes it easier for unions to divide the workplace into multiple, siloed bargaining units. These “micro-unions,” or fractured units, would greatly limit an employer’s ability to cross train and meet customer and client demands via lean, flexible staffing as employees could not perform work assigned to another unit. Employees would also suffer under this ruling due to the reduced job opportunities, including promotions and transfers, that would stem from it. 

Unfortunately, the court determined the NRLB’s ruling was a “reasonable interpretation” of the National Labor Relations Act. (You can read more about the court’s ruling here. Click here to read CDW’s fact sheet on Specialty Healthcare.) Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots as FedEx determines its next move in the case. 

In other union-related news: Politico’s “Morning Shift” reported last week that labor unions were more successful last year in organizing elections than in years past. According to Politico, there were 1,628 union elections in 2015 (the most in five years) and unions won 1,128 of those, the most wins in a decade. The rate of wins – 69.3 percent – was the second highest in nearly 20 years. (To learn more about the National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush elections” rule, which could be the reason for the increased number of labor wins in 2015, click here.) 

Given the unsuccessful challenge to Specialty Healthcare, it is important to note that unions prevailed in elections that involved fewer workers. According to Bloomberg BNA, which provided the analysis of the union election returns, labor won 73 percent of elections involving fewer than 50 workers, 62 percent of those involving 50-99 workers and 59 percent for elections involving 100 or more employees.