NRF and NCCR Join Legal Brief Against Micro-Unions

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 – The National Retail Federation and its National Council of Chain Restaurants division joined a broad coalition of business organizations today to file an amicus brief before the National Labor Relations Board opposing efforts to form a micro-union at NRF member Neiman Marcus Group Inc.’s landmark Bergdorf Goodman store in New York.

“This case is a result of a government agency run amok,” NRF President and CEO Matthew R. Shay said. “Over the past three years, the NLRB has steamrolled over long-settled precedent and procedures in an overt effort to empower big labor over the objections of retailers and the broader business community. This is just another attempt by an unelected set of bureaucrats to pass backdoor card check by decree.”

NRF and NCCR filed the friend-of-the-court brief in a case that involves the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union’s attempt to employ the NLRB’s decision in the 2011 Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center case to certify that Bergdorf workers in the women’s shoe department constitute a bargaining unit for organizing.


The Specialty Healthcare decision overturned a half-century of case law to significantly alter the standard definition for an appropriate bargaining unit. The Specialty Healthcare decision allows unions to cherry pick particular groups of employees (such as shoe department workers) to organize as an independent unit within a company.

“This attempt to support the creation of micro-unions is especially dangerous and should send chills up the spines of every business owner,” Shay said. “Today it is Bergdorf who is fending off the NLRB and micro-unions but tomorrow it could be the factory owner, farmer or corner retailer. This case has the potential to upend a company’s entire workforce and change the dynamic in the employer-employee relationship.”

NRF and NCCR have worked over the past year to challenge the implementation of the Specialty Healthcare decision, both in Congress and the courts, arguing that the decision was legally flawed and a threat to retailers, restaurants and others businesses. The organizations believe the decision and creation of micro-unions could lead to an inflexible and balkanized workforce, hamstring employee skills-training and undermine employee and employer rights.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation.