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The critical consideration in determining the appropriateness of a proposed unit is whether the employees comprising the unit share a "community of interest." In determining whether the requisite community of interest exists, the National Labor Relations Board considers several criteria, no single factor alone being determinative. The factors include: (a) geographic proximity of the stores in relation to each other; (b) level of employee interchange between various stores; (c) degree of autonomy exercised by the local store manager, especially with respect to labor relations; (d) extent of union organization; (e) history of collective bargaining; (f) desires of the affected employees; (g) employer's organizational framework; (h) similarity in skills, employee benefits, wages and hours of work.
Petitioner, Friendly Ice Cream Corporation (Friendly), seeks review of an order of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board), N.L.R.B. No. 112 (July 16, 1982), finding that Friendly violated Sections 8(a)(5) and 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (the Act). 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(5) and 158(a)(1). This violation occurred when Friendly refused to bargain with the Hotel, Restaurant, Bartenders and Institutional Employees Union, Local 26, AFL-CIO (the Union), the certified bargaining representative of a unit of employees at a Friendly restaurant in Weymouth, Massachusetts.
Did the employees of the restaurant constitute an appropriate bargaining unit?
The court held that the Board was not required to select the most appropriate unit in a certain factual setting; it needed only to select an appropriate unit under the circumstances, and that an employer seeking to challenge the Board's unit determination could not merely point to a more appropriate unit. Rather, the burden of proof was on the employer to show that the Board's unit was clearly inappropriate. After examining issues of store autonomy, the interchange of employees, and the proximity of the stores, the court affirmed the approval of the bargaining unit. The court found that the Board acted reasonably in sustaining the challenges to the election ballots, because individuals had to be employed and working on the eligibility date in order to be eligible to vote, and casual or temporary employees were excluded from bargaining units because they did not share the requisite community of interest with full-time and regular part-time employees.