The NLRB decision in August in the case of Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile radically changed the course of unit clarification decisions in non-acute health care organizations. In their decision, the NLRB departed from the standard established in Park manor, which had adopted a special test for use in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Instead, finding that the Park Manor approach was “obsolete”, the panel found that a group of Certified Nursing Assistants were an appropriate bargaining unit, departing from the prior 20-year standard that had included other groups in the facility within the community of interest. In making the decision, the panel stated that the employer will have the burden of showing an “overwhelming community of interest” should they object to the proposed unit on the grounds that it does not include the proper groups of employees. Non-acute health care employers can now look forward to additional labor activity and organizing drives.
However, the impact of this decision won’t stop with non-acute health facilities, or even within the health care industry as a whole. This decision overturns a general policy of avoiding “fractured units” within a single employer, and ensuring that a union will represent them only when a majority of staff within an employer choose it. This more difficult standard of “overwhelming community of interest” will be difficult to overcome for employers, and will likely be applicable to any type of employer facing union organizing efforts. This decision continues the trend of pro-union decisions coming out of the NLRB, and further pushes the procedural scale in favor of labor unions.