On June 11, 2021, the NLRB Regional Director rejected the IAM’s petition to represent 87 tool and die technicians out of about 4,300 production and maintenance employees at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant.  As reported on this blog, the IAM filed a micro-unit petition earlier this year.  The NLRB Regional Director held a 10-day evidentiary hearing over whether such a micro-unit was permissible.  In her 30-page decision, the Regional Director’s answer was “no.”

The Regional Director analyzed the community of interests that were common and that were distinct as among the 87 tool and die technicians on the one hand and those of the 4,200 who were excluded from the IAM’s petition on the other.  The factors reviewed included:

  • Departmental Organization and Common Supervision
  • Interchangeability and Contact among Employees
  • The Nature of Employee Skills and Functions
  • Degree of Functional Integration
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment

All of the interests of the two groups were common, except the 87 tool and die technicians have specialized welding and grinding expertise that the other employees don’t have or use.  According to the Regional Director, this one difference among the groups was not enough to save the micro-unit petition.

Accordingly, the Regional Director concluded that the appropriate unit was all 4,300 production and maintenance employees.  The Regional Director gave the IAM two business days to show that at least 30% of the 4,300 were interested in supporting the IAM.  Alternatively, the IAM has the right to request review of the Regional Director’s decision by the NLRB in Washington, D.C.  In a statement released on June 14, the IAM said that it would request review by the NLRB.  By the time the case reaches the NLRB for a decision, President Biden’s appointees will likely dominate the NLRB, and this will be the first micro-unit test for the new Biden NLRB.