NLRB DENIES “MICRO-UNIT,” & SHOOTS CALIFORNIA TEAMSTERS ORGANIZING DRIVE OUT OF THE SADDLE

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07/24/2017

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NLRB DENIES “MICRO-UNIT,” & SHOOTS CALIFORNIA TEAMSTERS ORGANIZING DRIVE OUT OF THE SADDLE

 By: Joseph P. Sbuttoni

The Regional Director for NLRB Region 31 in Los Angeles recently crippled a Teamsters Joint Council 42’s organizing drive by rejecting the Union’s proposed “micro-Unit” of a single classification of drivers employed by Golden State Overnite Delivery Service.   

Golden State Overnight Delivery Service operates a parcel/package pickup and delivery service out of 3 service hubs, in Visalia, Ontario and Sun Valley.  Golden State employs both drivers who own and operate their own delivery trucks, and drivers who operate company-owned vehicles only. 

On October 5, 2016, Teamsters Joint Council 42 filed a petition with NLRB Region 31 seeking to organize (and represent) a “micro-unit” of only the company drivers based out of the Sun Valley hub.  By doing so, the Teamsters sought to EXCLUDE the Sun Valley drivers who operated personally-owned vehicles, rather than those owned by the Company. 

Sun Valley argued that the drivers of personally-owned vehicles should be added to the proposed bargaining unit, the Teamsters stated “on the record” in the NLRB hearing that the Union would walk away from an election if the Board expanded  its micro-unit of only company drivers.

Pursuant to the current NLRB standards, a union has a great amount of latitude to define the group of employees that it wishes to represent as an “appropriate” bargaining unit.   In fact, the union’s petitioned-for bargaining unit will be rubber-stamped by the NLRB if the group of employees in the petitioned-for unit (the “company drivers”) is “readily identifiable as a group” and “share a community of interest.”  If those low thresholds are met, the Board will only expand the proposed unit upon a showing that the additional proposed employees share an “overwhelming community of interest” with the employees in the petitioned-for unit.

In this case, Sun Valley was able to establish an overwhelming community of interest between the company drivers and the drivers that own their own rigs, and expand the Unit, based on:

1.     Functional Integration -  Both sets of drivers performed the same basic duties and functions of picking up and delivering parcels to and from Sun Valley customers . . . and are “all working towards the same goal of package pickup and delivery” along  very similar routes assigned by the company;
2.     Contact and Interchange - the two sets of drivers had daily contact with each other in the mornings, and covered individual assignments for one another on a “daily” as needed basis;
3.     Common Supervision; and
4.     Identical handbook, work rules, and other terms and conditions of employment, such as medical and retirement benefits, leave and attendance policies, etc.

COUNSEL TO MANGEMENT:

The Union has until November 18, 2016 to petition the full Board for review of the Directors’ decision, so Golden State Overnite Delivery Service isn’t quite out of the woods yet.  However, this case offers some good clues for protecting against “micro-unit” organizing and achieving functional integration that will hold up under NLRB scrutiny. Employers of all kinds may want to review their employee classifications for evidence of employee interchange and cross training, common supervision and benefits as emphasized in this decision. For any questions about union organizing campaigns, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.

 

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