Micro Bargaining Units Headed to Retailers

By John Alan Doran

The NLRB has affirmed the certification of a micro bargaining unit at a Macy’s retail store.  Macy’s Inc. and Local 1445, UFCW, 361 NLRB No. 4 (July 22, 2014)  The certified unit consists solely of roughly 40 cosmetics and fragrance counter workers. Micro bargaining units, as the term suggests, are groups of employees considerably smaller than the actual workforce, and typically smaller than the larger group of employees that would normally be considered appropriate as a bargaining unit. There are at least two major problems with micro bargaining units. First, as a general proposition, the smaller the proposed bargaining unit, the more likely the unit is to garner enough votes to bring in a union. Second, and far more concerning, micro bargaining units promise balkanization of the workforce because multiple micro units within the same work area could be represented by different unions with competing and mutually exclusive demands and agendas.

In this ruling, the Board has expanded the scope of its highly controversial Specialty Healthcare decision, which first recognized micro bargaining units. Specialty Healthcare and Rehab. Center of Mobile, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 174 (December 30, 2011). The decision is consistent with the Board’s continuing mission to make elections easier for unions and more one-sided, with utter disregard for the havoc that will ensue in the workplace.