NLRB Overrules Obama-Era "Micro Units" Decision

Regulation | December 20, 2017 | by Jennifer Hilliard

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board), with its newly constituted Republican majority, on December 15 issued a decision in PCC Structurals Inc. (365 NLRB No. 160) that abandons the Obama era Board’s decision in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB 934 (2011) (Specialty Healthcare), which allowed employees to organize in so-called “micro units.”

The Board’s latest decision rejects the “overwhelming community-of-interest” standard established in Specialty Healthcare and returns to the traditional approach of determining the appropriate scope of a bargaining unit.

Under Specialty Healthcare, if a union petitioned for an election among a particular group of employees, those employees shared a community of interest among themselves, and the employer took the position that the smallest appropriate unit had to include employees excluded from the proposed unit, the Board would not find the petitioned-for unit inappropriate unless the employer proved that the excluded employees shared an “overwhelming” community of interest with the petitioned-for group. In returning to the traditional community of interest standard, the Board stated that “returning to the traditional community-of-interest standard that the Board has applied throughout most of its history . . . permits the Board to evaluate the interests of all employees—both those within and those outside the petitioned-for unit—without regard to whether these groups share an ‘overwhelming’ community of interests.”

While the decision is welcome news for employers, the decision is almost certain to be appealed in Federal court.