If you walk through the doors of the Macy’s store in Saugus, MA, sometime in the near future, you may notice that the woman who offers to spritz you with perfume is wearing a union button on her blouse.
Although 120 sales employees and 150 total workers work at the store, the National Labor Relations Board approved “micro unit” made up of the 41 cosmetics and fragrance salespeople to vote on whether to join a union.
In 2011 NLRB said subsets of employees called micro units can organize within a single operation. In a warehouse this might be just the forklift drivers or maintenance personnel. (AA, 9-30-13, P. 3)
Macy’s responded: “Organizing a selected portion of a store’s selling associates into multiple collective bargaining units is impractical and an impediment to providing a consistent level of customer service.”
The National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association also criticized the ruling.
Soon after the Macy’s decision, NLRB denied bargaining status for 46 shoe salespeople at a Bergdorf Goodman’s New York City store, divided into two departments on different floors, and who had significantly different management, directors, floor managers and department managers.
Although both groups sold women’s shoes, the NLRB held they lacked a “community of interest” because they had no communication with each other and one group was part of a larger sportswear department on its floor.
However, the board declined to address the employer’s argument that an appropriate unit had to include, at a minimum, all selling employees within the entire store.
The decision also suggests that the NLRB would not have approved such a large unit, and is not likely to alter the higher standard for challenging micro units embodied in the Macy’s ruling.