Unions May Continue Pushing Smaller Bargaining Units

Boeing and PCC union elections succeed despite NLRB reversal on 'micro unit' standard

The NLRB’s new stance on so-called “micro units” might not discourage unions from proposing smaller bargaining groups to win elections.

On May 31, a small group of workers at a Boeing plant in South Carolina voted to join a union, but the company will challenge the bargaining unit, calling it a federally prohibited “micro unit.” An NLRB regional director had approved the International Association of Machinists’ proposed unit of 176 technicians at the jetliner facility, which has about 7,000 employees total, according to Boeing.

Unions often have an easier time winning an election with a smaller subset of employees than the traditional wall-to-wall bargaining groups that encompass a whole workplace. Though the NLRB under President Trump has made it easier for employers to successfully challenge unions that propose smaller bargaining units, management-side labor attorneys expect unions to continue using the strategy. It remains to be seen whether small bargaining groups will actually boost union membership on a large scale, however.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the June 11, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.