Since the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in Specialty Healthcare was issued in 2011, it has been easier for unions to win representation elections. The Board’s recent decision in Fraser Engineering Company, 359 NLRB No. 80 (2013), exemplifies how unions that lost elections prior to Specialty Healthcare may now attempt to hand-pick smaller units and carve up workforces to win elections at those same employers. In Fraser Engineering the Board recognized a smaller unit of plumbers and pipefitters after having approved a larger unit only two years prior (when the union lost the election).
Even though Specialty Healthcare arose in the non-acute health care industry, the ruling has no discernible boundaries so that it can be extended to just about any industry, including maritime, retail food and grocery, television and radio, newspaper, construction, and manufacturing. Thus, employers across all industries could find themselves in this predicament, organized by smaller units with multiple collective bargaining agreements at facilities where a larger and perhaps more representative sample of employees had previously voted against unionization.
For an in-depth look at “micro-units” in the aftermath of Specialty Healthcare, click here to read Fragmented Workforces: Specialty Healthcare and the Advent of “Micro-Units.”