May 30, 2017
CONTACT: Ryan Williams


Stop Trying To Make Micro-Unions A Thing, Big Labor


Heather Greenaway
May 29, 2017
Washington Examiner

It’s no secret that Big Labor is constantly looking for ways to boost their membership and wield their influence, and over the last eight years, the Obama administration gave them various tools to do so. President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, in particular, went out of its way to make it easier for labor to organize workers, issuing several decisions that upended decades of bipartisan labor law and fundamentally altered the state of the workplace.

In fact, a report released late last year by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace determined that the Obama NLRB was by far the most partisan board in history, and that taken cumulatively, it upended 4,559 years of legal precedent.

The authors note that, “In each case where the Obama Board changed the law, the resulting new law became more favorable to labor interests than it did under previous Board rulings – frequently at the expense of promoting stable bargaining and economic growth and without regard for balancing the interests of business, labor and employees under the [National Labor Relations] Act.”

Fortunately, there are several efforts currently underway to roll back many of the misguided decisions of the last few years and rein in Big Labor’s control of the Board – including the Representation Fairness Restoration Act (S.1217), recently introduced in the Senate by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and companion legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 2629) by Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla.

These bills would overturn the Board’s ruling in Specialty Healthcare, an egregious decision handed down in 2011 that allowed for the formation of so-called micro-unions.

Specialty Healthcare created an entirely new standard for determining the make-up of bargaining units for a union certification election and the implications were sweeping. The authorization of micro-unions essentially allows labor bosses to gerrymander a workplace, encouraging organizers to group employees together in ad hoc bargaining units in order to increase the chance of a successful election outcome. By switching to a vague “community of interest” standard to determine the appropriateness of bargaining units, the decision in Specialty Healthcare amounted to “a fundamental rewrite of the NLRB’s traditional bargaining unit standard,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in their recent report on the harm of micro-unions in the workplace.

This decision opened the door to the spread of micro-unions across industries.

For example, we’ve seen labor bosses employ these tactics in department stores like Macy’s after unsuccessful “wall-to-wall” unionization attempts. In 2011, the United Food & Commercial Workers petitioned to represent all of Macy’s sales associates at a department store in Massachusetts, but in the election, employees voted against representation. Then, the following year, post-Specialty Healthcare, UFCW went back and filed a second representation petition to represent only the 41 cosmetic and fragrance sales reps of the store – and the election was a success, despite the fact that for decades prior, NLRB’s precedent for the retail industry required a storewide bargaining unit.

Micro-unions are disruptive to workplaces and make it harder for employers to run their businesses, while allowing labor organizers to place immense pressure on workers. Union organizers used to be required to win elections with a majority of the workforce voting in favor of forming a collective bargaining unit. After Specialty Healthcare, however, we’ve allowed them to hand-pick and sort sub-groups of employees more favorable to representation – increasing their success rates and adding members to their rolls. This doesn’t benefit workers, and it certainly doesn’t benefit our nation’s job creators.

While micro-unions make sense as a tool for Big Labor to increase membership and expand influence, that is simply not the case for the workers and business-owners. Congress must focus on securing wins for the workers and overturning bad labor policy is the perfect place to start.

 Heather Greenaway is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.

To access the op-ed, click here.

The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace.  To learn more, please visit:

To schedule an interview with a Workforce Fairness Institute representative, please contact Ryan Williams at (202) 677-7060.



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