SHRM Supports Boeing’s Efforts to Reconsider Micro-Bargaining Unit

 

Nancy Hammer By Nancy Hammer July 20, 2018
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On July 16, SHRM, in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers and the HR Policy Association, filed an amicus brief supporting Boeing's Request for Review of a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional director's recognition of a micro-bargaining unit. 

Last year, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) attempted to unionize about 3,000 workers at Boeing's Dreamliner manufacturing facility in South Carolina. After that unionization effort failed, the NLRB's regional director approved a bargaining unit made up of a fractured subset of about 178 flight readiness technicians and flight readiness technician inspectors that the IAM sought, and succeeded, in unionizing in 2018. 

Prior to 2011, the NLRB used a "community of interest" standard to determine which employees could be included and which employees could be excluded from potential collective bargaining units. In a 2011 case called Specialty Healthcare, the NLRB upended established precedent by adopting a more stringent test for determining which employees have similar interests when it comes to collective bargaining. 

Although the NLRB overturned Specialty Healthcare in 2017 in a case called PCC Structurals, the regional director in the Boeing case recognized the fractured unit. 

SHRM has long been concerned about the impact that such fractured bargaining units have on the operations of a company as employers juggle multiple collective bargaining agreements within the same workplace. Bargaining with several subsets of employee-unions is particularly difficult in an integrated manufacturing setting such as the Boeing plant. Allowing for incremental organizing of a company through micro-bargaining units also disenfranchises dissenting employees who may be in the majority in defeating a larger unit but find themselves marginalized within a small unit.

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