Republican Lawmakers Target Obama-Era Union Rule For Elimination

Ted Goodman | Reporter

Congressional Republicans introduced legislation Wednesday that would eliminate an Obama-era rule that allowed unions to organize small groups of employees, often subsets of the broader workforce in a business.

Republican Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson reintroduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act Wednesday, which was accompanied by legislation in the U.S. House. Isakson originally introduced the legislation 2015.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) first recognized “micro unions” in 2011, when a group of nursing assistants wanted to organize at Specialty Heealthcare. The NLRB’s decision to recognize the nursing assistants as a stand-alone bargaining unit broke away from decades of precedent.

In order to unionize, a majority of employees inside a workplace must vote in favor of unionization for the government to recognize them as a collective bargaining unit. Former President Obama’s NLRB revised the standard to allow smaller, sub-sets of employees to unionize. While the Specialty Healthcare decision set a new precedent, business groups have warned of a rise in micro-units.

Historically, the NLRB shied away from recognizing small units of employees, favoring “wall-to-wall units,” attorney David Pryzbylski explained. Unions have pursued micro-units in an effort to make organizing easier, and the NLRB’s 2011 decision paved the way for micro-units across the country.

Before its 2011 decision, the NLRB attempted to find a balance between bargaining units that are too large, making unionization difficult, and bargaining units that are too small, which could over-burden management with repetitive bargaining and frequent work stoppages.

“Micro-unions are a gift from the Obama-appointed National Labor Relations Board to union leadership,” Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They allow labor organizers to gerrymander a workplace into multiple factions with different labor contracts that expire on different dates. It’s a system designed for chaos. Federal labor laws are designed to promote stability. By allowing micro-unions, the NLRB has spit on that goal.”
Labor groups argue that the allowance of smaller bargaining units will help level the playing field for workers who want to unionize. They maintain that employers have found all sorts of ways to bar employees from unionization.

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