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National Restaurant Association - Micro-unions

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Restaurant Law Center

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Case: Macy’s Inc. v National Labor Relations Board

Status: Decided November 2016

Issue: We remain concerned about efforts by the National Labor Relations Board to tip the balance in favor of unions.

  • The NLRB announced its new “micro-unit standard” in 2011, to recognize the right of small groups of employees to organize.
  • In April 2016, we were one of 11 major business groups to join in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit challenging an NLRB decision to allow a group of employees within the cosmetics department of a Macy’s location to form their own "micro union."
  • The court ruled that the NLRB properly determined that this “micro-unit” was an appropriate bargaining unit because the employees in question had “distinct interests” that they did not share with other workers. We believe this violates the National Labor Relations Act, gives unions a much easier way to get a foothold in a workplace, and subjects employers to the possibility of having to negotiate and manage multiple bargaining contracts within a single location.
  • A panel of the Fifth Circuit sided with the NLRB and the full panel declined to rehear the case. However, its decision was split, with nine judges voting to deny Macy’s en banc review request and six judges dissenting. The dissenting judges issued an opinion holding that the case is part of a broader push by the NLRB to dismiss established labor law principles.

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