Micro-Unions Are Target of Reintroduced GOP Legislation

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By Tyrone Richardson

Congressional Republicans are once again pushing legislation to reverse an NLRB rule allowing employees to form micro-unions, which represent a portion of a company’s workforce.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) May 24 reintroduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act ( S.1217), which would undo the National Labor Relations Board’s 2011 Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile decision. The board ruled that a subset of certified nursing assistants within a larger group of health-care facility workers could vote on union representation without seeking input from the other employees.

Democrats have touted the decision as giving a voice to more workers, while Republicans see it as favoring labor unions and making it more difficult for businesses to function.

Republicans have been trying to reverse what they describe as overreach by the NLRB during the Obama administration. Along with micro-unions, that agenda includes reversing the board’s decisions expanding joint-employer liability and a rule that speeds up union representation elections.

Ongoing Effort to Reverse NLRB Ruling

Isakson, a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, introduced the effort to reverse the NLRB ruling on micro-unions in the last Congress. The bill, which had 15 Republican co-sponsors, didn’t make it out of the HELP Committee.

“I have introduced this legislation every Congress since the National Labor Relations Board decided to tip the scales in favor of unions, rather than allowing employees and managers within an organization to negotiate to best meet the needs of customers and workers alike,” Isakson said in a written statement May 24.

A companion House bill (number not assigned) was introduced May 24 by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.)

The reintroduced Senate bill has garnered support from 10 Republicans, including HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).

“The National Labor Relations Board’s decision to allow micro-unions fractures workplaces and makes it harder and more expensive for employers to manage their workplace and do business—all for the sake of boosting organized labor,” Alexander said in a written statement.

The Senate bill will need support from some Democrats to avoid a filibuster.

A spokeswoman for HELP Committee ranking Democrat Patty Murray (Wash.) wasn’t immediately available for comment May 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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