TRALA Supports Brief Opposing Ease on Union Organizing

Several large associations and organizations have joined TRALA in taking part in an amicus brief crafted by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) in opposition to a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case currently pending.

The case,the Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile and United Steelworkers, District 9,356 NLRB No. 56 (2010), could fundamentally change the way unions are formed. Because this is a representation case, there will be no opportunity for direct judicial review and the NLRB could begin implementing the decision immediately in other cases.

The NLRB's ruling is expected to reverse 50 years of case law by radically changing the standard for determining an appropriate bargaining unit for all of the estimated six million workplaces covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The key issue is whether employees performing the same job at a single facility presumptively constitute a bargaining unit for organizing purposes, irrespective of any commonality those employees share with other employees outside the proposed unit. The NLRB has historically applied a clear set of standards to determining a unit appropriate for bargaining - this case would completely change those standards.

The decision could make it easier for unions to organize by selecting a unit composed of the subset of employees most likely to support the union, regardless of whether those employees constitute a practical unit. An example that could affect the truck renting and leasing industry would be if a union chose to organize engine mechanics only rather than the entire maintenance crew at a facility.

Employers who are organized under such a system could be faced with the complicated and difficult task of bargaining with multiple small or fractured units, with separate wage schedules, benefit packages and grievance processes for similarly situated employees. This could overwhelm the industry - particularly small businesses - with administrative requirements forcing them into a constant state of bargaining.

Fractured units also would greatly limit an employer's ability to cross train and meet customer and client demands via lean, flexible staffing as employees could not perform work assigned to another unit. The impact on business productivity and competitiveness would be significant.

The final letter to the NRLB will go out next week with TRALA's name and other supporting entities attached. For now, you can read the brief in its entirety by clicking here.

If you have any questions about this case, please contact Jake Jacoby at TRALA at 703-299-9120 or at