News Releases

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Isakson Reintroduces Legislation to Restore Traditional Workplace Election Rules

Would reverse Obama-era labor decision allowing 'micro-unions'

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today reintroduced legislation that would reverse a federal labor board’s Obama-era decision that allows unions to handpick small numbers of employees within a company in hopes of organizing them into small bargaining units, or “micro-unions,” that fragment the workplace and make it nearly impossible for employers to manage.

Isakson’s Representation Fairness Restoration Act, S.1217, would reinstate a nearly 80-year-old standard for determining which groups of employees should constitute an appropriate bargaining unit in the workplace.

“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,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate labor subcommittee. “Common sense would tell you, and now experience has shown, that ‘micro-unions’ are a mistake, and I’m going to continue working to ensure that we have fair and equitable application of labor laws in the United States of America.”

“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,” said Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “For example, your local department store could splinter into dozens of factions that the employer must now negotiate with – with the men’s clothing department, the bedding department, the fragrance department, and the women’s shoe department all represented by separate unions that are fighting over who gets the better raises and break rooms. Senator Isakson’s legislation will reverse the NLRB’s disruptive micro-union decision and the chaos it causes—restoring balance and reducing conflict in the workplace.”

“The NLRB’s decision encourages unions to organize in the smallest units possible, which fragments the workforce,” said Senator Perdue. “Retailers and other employers have expressed serious concern with this ruling as it could potentially result in the formation of several dozen unions, each with its own representation, making it virtually impossible to manage. Micro unions hurt workers, employers, and the entire free-enterprise system.”

The Representation Fairness Restoration Act would prohibit unions from forming individual bargaining units within the same company consisting of as few as two or three workers, called “micro-unions.”

The Representation Fairness Restoration Act has earned support from ten original co-sponsors in the Senate, including Chairman Alexander, as well as U.S. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., David Perdue, R-Ga., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by U.S. Representative Francis Rooney, R-Fla.-19.

Background:

Isakson first introduced this legislation in 2011, in the wake of the National Labor Relations Board setting a new precedent with its ruling on a case in Alabama in which unions were allowed to target and organize just the certified nursing assistants into a “micro-union” within a nursing home. The case set a precedent that has allowed several “micro-unions” to be formed inside one store. For example, in one grocery store, the cashiers could form one “micro-union,” the baggers could form another, the produce stockers could form yet another, and so on.

Since the labor board’s 2011 decision, “micro-unions” have begun to form in multiple retail stores and manufacturing sites across the country, making it nearly impossible for employers to manage such fragmentation of the workforce.

Isakson has introduced this legislation in each session of Congress since 2011.

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