In a stunning development, the National Labor Relations Board has overruled Specialty Healthcare, the so-called “micro-unit” decision and replaced the “overwhelming community-of-interest” standard adopted there with the traditional “community-of-interest” standard for determining an appropriate bargaining unit in union representation cases. PCC Structurals, Inc., 365 NLRB No. 160 (December 15, 2017).

Under Specialty Healthcare, if a union petitioned for an election among a particular group of employees, and the employer took the position that the smallest appropriate unit had to include employees excluded from the proposed unit, the Board would not find the petitioned-for unit inappropriate unless the employer proved that the excluded employees shared an “overwhelming” community of interest with the petitioned-for group.  That standard itself became overwhelming for employers, who almost never were successful in convincing the Board to add excluded employees to the petitioned-for unit. Under the simple community-of-interest standard, employers almost assuredly will prevail more often.

The Board stated:

Having reviewed the Specialty Healthcare decision in light of the Act’s policies and the Board’s subsequent applications of the “overwhelming community of inter­est” standard, we conclude that the standard adopted in Specialty Healthcare is fundamentally flawed. We find there are sound policy reasons for returning to the tradi­tional community-of-interest standard that the Board has applied throughout most of its history, which permits the Board to evaluate the interests of all employees—both those within and those outside the petitioned-for unit— without regard to whether these groups share an “over­whelming” community of interests.

Watch the Jackson Lewis website for a detailed analysis of this decision.

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Photo of Howard M. Bloom Howard M. Bloom

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Mr. Bloom speaks frequently to employer groups on a wide range of labor and employment law topics. He also has written extensively on labor and employment law for a variety of publications, including New England Business magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. He also is editor of and a frequent contributor to the Jackson Lewis Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog.

While attending law school, he was the Executive Editor of The Advocate: the Suffolk University Law School Journal and President of the Student Bar Association.

Mr. Bloom is a diehard baseball fan. His first book, The Baseball Uncyclopedia: A Highly Opinionated Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, was published in February 2006.

Photo of Philip B. Rosen Philip B. Rosen

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.