Dec 19, 2017

NLRB Returns to Past Precedent: Duty to Bargain over Changes and Traditional Community of Interest Standard

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On December 15, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a pair of decisions, Raytheon Network Centric Systems and PCC Structurals, overturning two more standards that have negatively impacted employers in recent years and ending an eventful week for the NLRB.

In Raytheon Network Centric Systems, the NLRB overturned its 2016 ruling, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, restoring the NLRB’s precedent dating back to 1964 and allowing businesses to change policies without a union’s permission if they have taken similar actions before.  The NLRB held that Raytheon did not violate the National Labor Relations Act when it adjusted employee health care benefits without union permission in 2013.  The Board stated that Raytheon was not obligated to bargain with a union over the changes because the change was in line with unilateral changes Raytheon made at the same time each year for more than a decade.

In PCC Structurals, the NLRB overruled its 2011 decision, Specialty Healthcare that required employers to show that workers they want included in a unit share an overwhelming community of interest with the union’s proposed organizing group.  The effect of this decision was to substantially raise the bar on the ability of employers to include other employees in proposed bargaining units, and to make it substantially easier for unions to organize discrete groups of pro-union employees by allowing them to organize what are known as micro-units.  The Board reinstated the traditional community-of-interest standard for determining an appropriate bargaining unit in union representation cases.  Under this standard, a determination of which employees should be in a bargaining unit is based on an assessment of how the workers are organized and classified, the types of jobs they do, and their skills and training, without regard to whether any groups share an overwhelming community of interests.


If you have any questions or concerns on how these decisions may impact your business practices or have any other questions please contact your labor and employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

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