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NLRB Continues to Clear a Path for Unionization

There have been a number of actions taken by the NLRB in 2011 that have been blog worthy.  For those that have followed along closely, the overwhelming theme of the NRLB's decisions and actions has been extremely pro-union.  Each of the decisions along the way makes it harder for employers to manage their workforce and to avoid unionization should a labor union become interested in representing their employees.  In a decision a few days ago, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, the NLRB altered the rules with respect to which employees can be included in a bargaining unit.  The NLRB held that once a union petitions for a specific bargaining unit, for an employer to add other employees to the requested unit it must be demonstrated that they share an "overwhelming community of interest" with the requested unit.  What is new with this decision is the addition of the qualifier "overwhleming."  The requirement to show an "overwhelming" community of interest, in a practical sense, means that employers may struggle mightily to alter the unit of employees the union targets with a petition.  While this may sound like a non-issue for those who have not dealt with union organizing efforts, it may prove to be one of the most significant pro-union decisions issued by the NLRB.  The practical application of this concept is that unions may now choose small subsets of employees within an employer as a target for unionization, and the employer may be powerless to add other similar employees into the election process.  This ability to select small distinct groups within an employer is a major advantage to unions and will end up being a large thorn in the side of employers in dealing with union organizing attempts.  Not only will this be a major problem for employers during organizing drives, but it will serve as a significant management challenge if small fractional groups of an employers workforce become organized while others remain non-union.  Stay tuned, as the NLRB will almost certainly continue to issue more favorable outcomes for unions.  If you would like to read the entire NLRB decision, click here.


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
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Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
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Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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