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NLRB Restricts ‘Micro Unions’

WASHINGTON—The National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 16 reversed an Obama-era decision that had enabled workers to organize “micro unions” in separate bargaining units within a workplace—such as the United Auto Workers unit formed by skilled trades workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee factory after the plant’s production workers had voted against joining the UAW. In a 3-2 vote along party lines, the board said a union representing about 100 welders and “rework specialists” at an Oregon manufacturing company was improper because it should have included all 2,500 employees at the facility. In 2011, the NLRB had ruled that workers could form a micro-union if their unit has distinct working conditions, and the burden is on the employer to prove that it doesn’t or that it excludes other workers with similar conditions. The board said that unfairly favored unions, because it enabled them to select groups of workers who were likely to vote for a union “in all but narrow and highly unusual circumstances.” The new ruling puts the burden of proving the validity of a separate bargaining unit on the union. Read more

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