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NRF, RILA: Micro-union decision made in error


The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals saying the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to recognize a “micro-union” of workers in a single department at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts was incorrect. According to the trade organizations, allowing workers in a single department instead of the whole store to organize violates longstanding precedents on union organizing.

“The NLRB’s support for micro-unions will turn workplace cohesion and efficiency on its head and will acutely harm the retail industry,” said David French, senior VP government relations for the NRF. “The establishment of micro-unions will erect unnecessary barriers between both employees and opportunities and employees and their customers.”

The case before the court derives from the NLRB’s 2014 decision to recognize workers in the cosmetics and fragrance department at a Macy’s store in Saugus, Massachusetts as a bargaining unit, abandoning its previous view that a unit needed to consist of employees from at least an entire store. NRF and RILA say that the new standard would “balkanize” retail employees, hamper customer service and impede both employee rights and retail operations. Macy’s has appealed the ruling.

“The board’s new test encourages a single store’s workforce to be dissected into small, fractured bargaining units – like the Macy’s store here – which hamstrings retail operations and customer service, multiplies administrative costs and limits opportunities for employees who could be denied the chance for advancement or additional work because of arbitrary union line-drawing,” the brief said.

NRF and RILA believe the NLRB erred in its application of the Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile decision to the Macy’s case. The associations argue that the decision ignores longstanding labor precedent and the uniqueness of the retail industry workforce and violates the National Labor Relations Act.

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