By  on July 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of the Neiman Marcus Group Inc.’s Bergdorf Goodman in a case involving a union trying to organize two separate shoe departments within its women’s store in Manhattan.

The NLRB said in its decision that the petition brought by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union to organize a salon shoe department on the second floor of the Bergdorf store and a contemporary shoe department located on the fifth floor did not represent an “appropriate [bargaining] unit” because it “lacked a community of interest.”

Retailers have grown concerned over decisions handed down by the NLRB, most recently one in which it ruled against Macy’s Inc. and allowed a union to move forward with an organizing election involving employees in a cosmetics and fragrance department at one of its stores. The retail community argues that the Macy’s ruling will pave the way for separate union bargaining units within stores, which they say could fragment their business.

But the NLRB’s decision in the Bergdorf case indicated that the board is taking decisions about union bargaining units within stores on a case-by-case basis.

The RWDSU petitioned the NLRB to cover 46 shoe sales associates in the two departments and an election was held in June 2012, but the ballots were impounded because of the pending case before the NLRB. In its decision posted late Monday, the NLRB dismissed the union’s petition, vacated the union election and remanded the case back to an NLRB regional director for “further appropriate action.”

Neiman Marcus declined to comment on the NLRB decision, but two retail trade and lobbying groups weighed in.

“It is certainly a win for Bergdorf without a question,” a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association said.

However, even with the decision in favor of Bergdorf, RILA and the National Retail Federation believe the NLRB will continue to push for the creation of micro unions.

“This is a qualified victory for the retail industry, but significant challenges continue to confront the nation’s retail community,” including the concern about micro unions, an NRF spokesman said.

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