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January 2, 2018

NLRB Overturns MSCI-Opposed Specialty Healthcare Decision

On December 15, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a ruling in PCC Structurals Inc., abandoning the board’s earlier Specialty Healthcare decision, which allowed employees to organize in “micro units.” That standard had made it easier for unions to divide the workplace into multiple siloed bargaining units.

These “micro units,” or fractured units, greatly limited 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. It also made it harder for manufacturers to manage operations effectively, enabling one micro-union to shut down production and/or operations at any given time. Employees also suffered from reduced job opportunities, such as promotions and transfers.

That’s why the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) worked over the last few years to overturn this ruling with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW).

The Dec. 15 decision reinstated the previous standard that employees have to share an “overwhelming community of interests” to be an appropriate bargaining unit. The NLRB said they would no longer apply the Specialty Healthcare decision when evaluating petitions for union representation, but it will evaluate individual cases “taking into consideration the interests of employees both within and outside the petitioned-for unit, in light of the policies and purposes of the [National Labor Relations] Act.” The board also said that the Specialty Healthcare decision gave too much power to union organizers to decide which employees should be included in the bargaining unit and inappropriately allowed unions to gerrymander the workforce, only choosing the workers who wanted to organize and effectively disenfranchising other workers.

The CDW expects that labor unions will look for opportunities to challenge this decision in federal courts. More information on Specialty Healthcare and micro-unions can be found on CDW’s website