Should Bergdorf’s Tell Macy’s?

By John Alan Doran

In a peculiar spin on the old line “would Macy’s tell Gimbel’s,” the NLRB unanimously rejected a micro bargaining unit at retailer Bergdorf Goodman only a week after it approved a somewhat similar micro bargaining unit at Macy’s, also a retail establishment. In the Bergdorf case, the union sought to organize a women’s shoes sales team that consisted of workers in the Salon shoes department on one floor, and the Contemporary shoes department on a separate floor of the store. While all of the workers shared similar working conditions and terms, the Board nonetheless found that the two groups did not share a sufficiently strong “community of interest” to justify a combined micro bargaining unit. The rationale for the decision is a true head-scratcher, as the Board explained itself in ridiculously vague and conclusory terms, noting that the proposed combined unit did not fall neatly within any “administrative or operational lines” drawn by Bergdorf. In light of the Macy’s decision last week (read our blog discussion here), retailers can only guess what the Board will do with future micro bargaining units in light of the seeming contradictions between the Macy’s decision and this decision.