Many in the labor community are familiar with the Machinists Union’s long running effort to unionize Boeing’s South Carolina-based 787 Dreamliner manufacturing facility.  After failing in two previous attempts to organize the entire facility, the Union recently won a bid to organize a “micro-unit” limited to a group of flight line technicians and inspectors. 
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During a week that brought several notable decisions, the National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling on Friday, December 15, 2017, overturning its controversial 2011 Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB 934 (2011) (“Specialty Healthcare”) , which held that in order for employees to be included in a collective bargaining unit, employers had to prove the employees shared an “overwhelming community of interest” with one another.
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On May 24, 2017, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fl.) each introduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act in their respective Houses of Congress in an attempt to reverse the controversial 2011 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB No. (2011). The Board in Specialty Healthcare announced a new standard for determining the appropriateness of a bargaining unit. The Representation Fairness Restoration Act seeks to eliminate that new standard.
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By now, most in the employer community are all too familiar with the NLRB’s controversial “micro-bargaining unit” standard announced in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB No. 83 (2011). In that case, the Board announced a standard that in almost all instances results in approval of a union-requested bargaining unit, unless the employer can show that an “overwhelming community-of-interest” exists between the requested unit and some other part of its workforce.
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As many in the employer community are aware, late last month the United Auto Workers won the right to represent a group of maintenance employees working at Volkswagen’s auto manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The union, which lost handily in an earlier bid to represent the entire plant, had asked the NLRB to sanction another election, but in a “micro-unit” of only the maintenance employees. To the surprise of many, the Board Regional Director handling the case granted the union’s request. In his view, the micro-unit was allowable under the Board’s controversial Specialty Healthcare standard.
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