Public Control of Labor Relations: A Study of the National Labor Relations Board

By D. O. Bowman | Go to book overview

Chapter IX. THE APPROPRIATE UNIT

A. General

The majority-rule provision of the Act presupposes that there is a bargaining unit within which the rule applies. Without such a unit there would be (1) no collective bargaining because there would be no concert among the workers; or (2) the employer would attempt to bargain by some method of proportional representation which, sophisticated labor students believe, often might mean playing groups against each other so that in fact the effects of collective bargaining would be destroyed. Therefore, a bargaining unit must be selected.

The employers could determine the unit, but such a determination would invite employer abuse and gerrymandering. The employees might determine the unit; but they, too, could gerrymander and set up all sorts of heterogeneous units with the limiting case of each worker's choosing himself as a unit. In any case workers cannot express a choice for a representative unless it is known who is eligible, and in part eligibility is a function of the unit. It is, therefore, apparent that logically the unit determination would rest with the Board and such provision is made:

"The Board shall decide in each case whether, in order to insure to employees the full benefit of their right to self-organization and to collective bargaining, and otherwise to effectuate the policies of this Act, the unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining shall be the employer unit, craft unit, plant unit, or subdivision thereof."1

Obviously, the Board was given full discretion to determine each case on its merits. Organized labor had insisted that this discretion be included in the law because of a fear that the em

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1
See Appendix I, Section 9(b). The Section is operative in unfair labor practice cases where a refusal-to-bargain charge has been brought and in representation cases where representatives for the future are to be designated.

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