By Brendan O'Brien
Feb 6 (Reuters) - Two retail organizations are supporting
Macy's in its attempt to persuade the National Labor Relations
Board not to let a group of cosmetic and fragrance workers
On Tuesday, the NLRB granted the Retail Industry Leaders
Association and the Retail Litigation Center permission to file
a joint amicus brief in the case, which may set firmer precedent
in the organizing of micro-unions, small bargaining units formed
in larger places of employment.
In their brief, the organizations endorsed Macy's position
that a union consisting of some 40 cosmetic and fragrance
workers at its store in Saugus, Massachusetts, would be
considered a "fractured unit."
Letting the cosmetic and fragrance workers unionize signals
to unions that they have license to "cherry-pick" subsets of
employees who work in the retail industry, the organizations
"We feel it is not in the best interest of customers,
employees or employers," said Deborah White, the executive vice
president and general counsel of RILA. "It makes the
administration of the store very difficult and it can pit
employees against each other."
Ronald Cohen, acting regional director of the NLRB's First
Region in Boston, directed an election for the cosmetic and
fragrance workers on Nov. 8, 2012.
In his decision to direct an election, Cohen said Macy's
distinguishes between cosmetic and fragrance employees and other
workers by establishing "differing terms of employment,
including wage structures and vendor relationships for cosmetics
and fragrances employees."
In a request for review of the decision on Dec. 18, Macy's
said only an all-selling unit or a storewide "wall-to-wall" unit
would be appropriate based on longstanding board precedent.
The NLRB shifted its stance on micro-unions in 2011, when it
ruled that certified nursing assistants working for Specialty
Healthcare in Mobile, Alabama, can unionize.
The cosmetic and fragrance department workers would be
represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union
Attorneys for Macy's and the union were not immediately
available to comment.
The case is Macy's, Inc., Employer, and Local 1445, United
Food and Commercial Workers Union, Petitioner, National Labor
Relations Board, No. 01-RC-091163.
For Macy's: William Joy of Morgan, Brown & Joy.
For United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1445:
Warren Pyle of Pyle Rome Ehrenberg.
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