In a letter sent today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) urged the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to address the harmful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that created micro unions when it considers legislation to fund the agency this week.
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on Wednesday. Specifically, RILA is urging the committee to approve an amendment adding language that would prevent the fragmentation of workplaces through the creation of micro unions.
“I write to urge you to support an amendment expected to be offered that will stop efforts by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to fragment workplaces through micro unions,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president for government affairs.
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.
“There are countless stories in the retail industry of current executives who started their careers working on the sales floor. Micro unions would impede employees from developing their knowledge base and advancing their careers in this manner. Not only does internal growth benefit the employee, but employers find that it provides for better employee retention and a healthier connection between senior management and the employees in their stores,” said Kolb.
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.
In language approved last week in subcommittee, the same funding bill 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 praised the subcommittee action.
"Ambush elections limit employees' access to information which threatens employee rights to free speech and due process. We applaud the subcommittee for fighting back against the NLRB's efforts to erode employer and employee rights," said Kolb.
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.