Alexander Cosponsors Isakson Legislation to Reverse NLRB Decision to Allow Micro-Unions

Says legislation would “restore balance and fairness to the workplace”

Posted on March 19, 2015

“The NLRB’s decision to allow micro-unions divides workplaces and makes it harder and more expensive for employers to manage their workplace and do business.” – Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 –U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate labor committee, today cosponsored legislation that would reverse the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision to allow “micro-unions,” collective bargaining units made up of subsets of employees within the same company.

“The NLRB’s decision to allow micro-unions divides workplaces and makes it harder and more expensive for employers to manage their workplace and do business,” Alexander said. “This legislation will restore balance and fairness to the workplace and reduce the conflict, lawsuits, and uncertainty that this decision causes.”

In a floor speech last year, Alexander discussed the damaging effects of this NLRB decision, saying, “How has this worked in the real world?  Here is an example: the board just approved a bargaining unit for cosmetic and fragrance employees in a Macy’s department store – not the shoe salespeople, not the ladies’ fashion employees, not the junior’s department, just cosmetic and fragrance. Imagine if every department of Macy’s decided to form a union. The employer would have dozens of different groups to negotiate with, and the different unions would be fighting each other over who got the better raises and break rooms in terms of employment.”

The Representation Fairness Restoration Act was introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), chairman of the subcommittee on employment and workplace safety, and has 13 original cosponsors in the Senate. The legislation is in response to the 2011 NLRB Specialty Healthcare decision that determined unions can handpick small numbers of employees within a company—doing similar jobs in the same location—to form micro-bargaining units. Allowing micro-unions makes it easier for unions to cherry-pick employees who favor unionization, excluding employees who would oppose the union. Creating several different unions within the same workplace location makes it more difficult for employers to manage fragmentation in their workplaces. 

Alexander noted that the Specialty Healthcare decision is particularly unjust in light of the NLRB’s new ambush election rule, which is set to go into effect next month. Under these two policies, union organizers would be able control which employees get to vote and when they get to vote – nearly every aspect of the organizing process. Union organizers would be able to handpick the employees that support unionization, leaving employers with little or no say in the formation of the bargaining unit and employees who did not want to work in a unionized workplace shutout entirely. Alexander introduced, and the Senate passed, last month a resolution to prevent the ambush election rule from going into effect. The measure also passed the House of Representatives earlier today. 

Alexander was also an original cosponsor of The Representation Fairness Restoration Act in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

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