In a letter sent today to leaders of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) urged the subcommittee to take action against two flawed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions.
Specifically, RILA called on the subcommittee to include language in the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would stop efforts by the NLRB to dramatically shorten the period before a union election, and to fragment workplaces through the creation of micro-unions.
"The agency's ambush elections rule, as well as the Specialty Healthcare "micro-union" decision, promote an agenda that is harmful to employees and employers," said Kelly Kolb, vice president for government affairs. "If the recent NLRB decisions on ambush elections and micro-bargaining units are allowed to stand, today's front line employees will be denied the flexibility and advancement opportunities that they seek and that their predecessors have enjoyed."
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.
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.
"Absent Congressional action, the actions of the NLRB will increase economic uncertainty that will have negative ramifications for the industry, the retail employees in our stores and distribution centers, and the tens of millions of consumers we serve. I respectfully urge you to support these reasonable provisions in the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill," concluded 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 centers domestically and abroad.