The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued the following statement in response to action today in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to address the harmful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions that created micro unions and dramatically shortened the time before a union election.
“RILA applauds members of the Appropriations Committee for fighting to stop these harmful NLRB decisions. Micro unions and ambush elections would undermine the flexibility that retail employees value and impede employees from developing their knowledge base and advancing their careers in this manner," said Kelly Kolb, vice president for government affairs. "There are countless stories in the retail industry of current executives who started their careers working on the sales floor. Absent action by Congress, these harmful decisions would deny today's retail employees of the opportunities that their predecessors enjoyed."
Micro-unions are a result of the 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, in which the NLRB redefined what could be considered a proper bargaining unit. The rule allows union organizers to gerrymander a workplace, cherry-picking groups of employees within a larger workforce to form micro-unions. The resulting balkanization of the workplace would be particularly harmful to retail, where many of today’s executives got their start working as associates in retail stores. The work rules that will come from micro-unions will undermine the flexibility that employees enjoy and the cross-training necessary for advancement.
The micro union standard has already been applied within the retail industry and other sectors as well. The NLRB and its Regional Directors have paved the way for the creation of micro unions, including the cosmetics and fragrance department at a Macy’s department store, as well as the maintenance employees at a Nestle Dreyer’s Ice Cream facility.
Also included in the funding bill was language added in subcommittee that would stop a different effort undertaken by the NLRB to dramatically shorten the period before a union election.
Ambush elections limit the issues and evidence that can be presented at a pre-election hearing, restrict employer arguments to only those identified prior to a pre-election hearing, and shorten the election time frames. Changes to the timing of elections limits employee access to essential information necessary to cast an informed vote, while at the same time limiting the ability of employers to exercise their right to free speech and address employee concerns. In addition, the decision forces employers to provide private information about their employees, a move that unnecessarily increases tensions between employers and employees.
RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution center.