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NLRB’s Gift to Employers: Overturning Obama-Era Micro Units Standard

At the end of 2017, the NLRB issued a decision reversing the enhanced “overwhelming” community of interest standard and its much derided “micro units” in determining the appropriate unit for representational purposes. In its 3-2 decision in PCC Structurals, Inc., 365 NLRB No. 160 (2017), the NLRB re-adopted the traditional test, which considers factors such as functional integration, employee skill, employee interchangeability, working conditions, wages and benefits, common supervision, and bargaining history to determine whether a proposed unit of workers shares a community of interest. The PCC decision overturns the NLRB’s 2011 decision in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, which had allowed the unionization of “micro-units.”

In returning to the traditional test, the NLRB may have made it more difficult for unions to organize by compromising the union-organizing strategy of “getting a foot in the door” with a smaller bargaining unit as a prelude to organizing more employees at a later date.