Your Leased Employees May Now Join a Union with Your Regular Employees – And They Don’t Need to Ask Your Permission

Today, in Miller & Anderson, Inc. v. Tradesmen International and Sheet Metal Works International Association, Local Union No. 19, AFL-CIO, the NLRB decided that, pursuant to the NLRA, temporary or leased employees who work for an employer as joint employees under an agreement with a staffing agency or similar entity do not have to have the employer’s consent to join the union that covers that employer’s regular employees. The full opinion can be found here. This decision overturns a 2004 NRLB decision, Oakwood Care Center, which held that employees who were jointly employed by an employer and a staffing agency could not be in the same bargaining unit without the employer’s consent. Today’s decision revives a 2000 NLRB decision, M.B. Sturgis, which held that both temporary and regular workers could be represented by the same union without the joint consent of the employer and the staffing agency. Under M.B. Sturgis, temporary staffing employees could be included in a single bargaining unit with regular employees when: (1) the staffing agency and the employer were determined to be joint employers and (2) the temporary staffing employees shared a “community of interest” with the regular employees. The M.B. Sturgis decision by a Clinton-appointed Board upended a 1973 NLRB decision that found that a single bargaining unit of regular employees and leased employees to be inappropriate without the consent of both employers.

The political-weighted pendulum of the Obama-appointed Board continues to swing in favor of the unions by continuing to expand the scope of the NLRA to cover additional employees and additional actions, particularly in the area of joint-employers. This inclusion of leased employees in an employer’s bargaining unit is just another step down that road. Employers must be aware of this decision in any situation where they have leased employees in the same or similar positions as regular employees who are represented by a union or wish to be represented by a union.

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