Labor Law -- 2016

Constellation Brands US Operations, Inc. v. NLRB   (2nd Circuit)

Standard for determining bargaining units

The NAM previously filed an amicus brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) objecting to the NLRB’s application of its decision in the Specialty Healthcare allowing employees to create a bargaining unit that is small and under inclusive. In this case, the NLRB determined that 46 winemaking cellar employees within a completely integrated production facility constituted an appropriate bargaining unit because they were “readily identifiable as a group” that “shared a community of interest.” The NLRB rejected Constellation Brands’ argument that similarly situated production and maintenance employees who worked alongside the cellar employees shared common interests with them and should be included in the unit. Constellation Brands refused to bargain with the union, intending to challenge the NLRB’s unit determination, but the NLRB issued a decision finding that Constellation Brands’ refusal to bargain constituted an unfair labor practice.

The NLRB decision was appealed to a federal appeals court, and the NAM and others filed an amicus brief on 12/17/2015. The amicus brief continues our argument that the NLRB wrongly decided Specialty Healthcare and that the Board’s decision on that ruling should be overruled for three reasons. First, the Specialty Healthcare rule violates the plain terms of the NLRA by granting too much deference to the union’s proposed unit in violation. Second, Specialty Healthcare represents a radical departure from the Board’s longstanding precedent and encourages a multiplicity of fractured units within workplaces throughout the country. Third, in deciding Specialty Healthcare, the NLRB violated the Administrative Procedure Act. On 11/21/2016 the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in the Constellation Brand micro-union case. While the court upheld the Specialty Healthcare standard, it found the Regional Director did not apply the standard correctly. This case is part of a recent trend by the courts limiting the Specialty Healthcare micro union standard. In this case, the court required the Board to show that they analyzed the unit and found evidence that the employees in the proposed unit are sufficiently distinct from other similar employees that were not included.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (December 16, 2015)


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