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NLRB May Not Arbitrarily Change Definition of Acceptable Bargaining Units
Description NLRB's reversal of long-standing policy of requiring "wall-to-wall" bargaining units within lumber operations, without explanation, violates reasoned decision-making required by APA.
Topic Labor Law
Key Words Bargaining Units, Administrative Procedure Act, NLRB
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A union petitioned for a representation election among the 40 maintenance workers out of the 200 production and maintenance workers at a wood-products facility. Employer refused to bargain with the union, which had won the election, claiming it was an inappropriate bargaining unit in the lumber industry. NLRB held against the employer, who appealed.
Decision Reversed. The NLRB has held for decades that because production and maintenance work are extensively integrated in lumber operations, that it will only certify "wall-to-wall" units in the lumber industry. Its decision in this case -- splitting the workers into separate bargaining units -- changed NLRB policy without explanation. The NLRB's decision does not meet "the reasoned decision-making standard of the APA." When such a change is made, the NLRB must explain why the same factors considered before "no longer deserve the same weight that they have received in the past."
Citation Willamette Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 144 F.3d 877 (D.C. Cir., 1998)

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