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Senator attacks Board decision to approve mini-unit at Bergdorf Goodman shoe department, calls for passage of legislation barring mini-unions

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) has attacked the NLRB’s recent decision to approve the formation of a mini-union of employees within the shoe department at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman store. The ruling follows the precedent set forth in the Board’s Specialty Healthcare ruling, which allows for the formation of small, discrete units. Critics of the ruling, including Isaskon, have said that the decision will lead to fragmented workplaces.

The Board’s New York City regional director recently approved a mini-union application involving employees at Bergdorf Goodman, thereby allowing “all full-time and regular part-time women’s shoes associates in the 2nd Floor Designer Shoes Department and in the 5th Floor Contemporary Shoes Department” to form a micro union within the store.”

Isakson, the senior Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, said the approval demonstrates that the board has “run amok” and voiced the belief that the Specialty Healthcare decision created “through regulation what we ought to be doing through legislation on the floor of the Senate.”

Shortly after that decision was handed down, Isakson introduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act (S.1843) which would amend Sec. 9(b) of the NLRA by adding an eight-part test that the board would have to apply when deciding whether workers share a sufficient community of interest to be grouped in a single unit. Under that bill, the Board would have to consider the similarity of wages, benefits and working conditions, and skills and training. The board would also have to consider the centrality of management and common supervision, the extent of interchange and frequency of contact between employees, the integration of the workflow, and interrelationship of the production process. The Board would also have to consider the consistency of the unit with the employer’s organizational structure, the similarity of job functions and work; and the bargaining history in the particular unit and the industry.

The legislation was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. It is not expected to receive a vote during this session of Congress.

Source: WKL&B Editorial Staff.