U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) this week reintroduced legislation that would reverse the National Labor Relations Board's 2011 decision allowing as few as two or three employees to form micro bargaining units, or "micro unions," to engage in collective bargaining with employers. Isakson's legislation, the Representation Fairness Restoration Act, has 12 original cosponsors.
Isakson is the ranking Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, which oversees labor issues.
Isakson first introduced this legislation in the 112th Congress in response to the Aug. 26, 2011, decision by the federal labor board in the "Specialty Healthcare" case, which set a new precedent allowing unions to target small numbers of employees within a company for the purpose of organizing them into micro bargaining units. For example, in one grocery store, the cashiers could form one "micro union," the baggers could form another, the produce stockers could form yet another, and so on. This could potentially create several different unions within the same store location, making it easier for unions to gain access to employees and nearly impossible for employers to manage such fragmentation of the workforce.
Since the "Specialty Healthcare" case decision, micro unions have begun to form in multiple retail stores and manufacturing sites across the country.
Isakson's legislation would reinstate the traditional standard for determining which employees will constitute an appropriate bargaining unit, a standard that has been developed through years of careful consideration and Congressional guidance. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has introduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act in the House.
"I'm proud to reintroduce the Representation Fairness Restoration Act that reinstates the traditional standard for determining appropriate bargaining units. When the NLRB decided to allow micro unions, they significantly tipped the scales in favor of unions and neglected our nation's long-standing precedents of collective bargaining. This ruling makes it easier for unions to gain access to employees and makes it nearly impossible for employers to manage such fragmentation of their workforce," said Isakson. "I will continue to fight this unfair practice, and I thank my colleagues in the House for their support."
In March 2011, while the National Labor Relations Board was in the process of making its final decision on the "Specialty Healthcare" case, Isakson joined Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., in sending a letter warning the agency that its legal reasoning could be used to apply new rules for unionization for all U.S. industries and businesses under its jurisdiction. The senators further expressed concern about the Board's practice of trying to make labor policy through adjudication instead of the established rulemaking process.
The legislation has garnered the support of 12 original cosponsors in the Senate, including Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Tim Scott, R-S.C.