Vol. 12, No. 6, Pg. 14. Unions Now Able to Organize Temporary Workers.

Author:By Paul H. Derrick

South Carolina Lawyer


Vol. 12, No. 6, Pg. 14.

Unions Now Able to Organize Temporary Workers

14UNIONS NOW ABLE TO ORGANIZE TEMPORARY WORKERSBy Paul H. DerrickIn a significant ruling apparently tailored to the interests of organized labor, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has handed down a sweeping decision extending the rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to temporary and other contingent workers. (M.B. Sturgis, Inc., 331 NLRB No. 173). Labor unions now will be able to organize nontraditional employees and include them in collective bargaining units along with regular workers.

The decision in two consolidated cases, M.B. Sturgis, Inc. and Jeffboat Division, American Commercial Marine Service Coinpany, 331 NLRB No. 173, significantly altered the legal framework under the NLRA for temporary employees procured through a "supplier employer" (i.e., temporary agency) in both unionized and union-free work environments.

16Since 1990, the NLRB has held that the only way temporary workers could be represented by a union and bargain collectively with the "user" employer was if both the temporary agency and its client company consented to multi-employer bargaining. The Board's new decision overrules its prior position in Lee Hospital, 300 NLRB 947, clearing the way for temporary workers to be included along with a company's regular work force in unorganized units voting for union representation and merged into existing bargaining units.


M.B. Sturgis, Inc. manufactures flexible gas hoses at its Maryland Heights, Missouri facility. The company has approximately 35 full-time employees and uses 10-15 temporary employees, supplied through a temporary agency, to perform the same work as Sturgis' employees.

In 1995, the Textile Processors, Service Trades, Health Care, Professional and Technical Employees International Union, Local 108, filed a petition to represent Sturgis' full-time employees. The company argued that the voting unit should include the temporary employees, but the NLRB Regional Director, citing the Lee Hospital decision, ruled the temporary employees could not be included in the unit without the consent of the temporary agency. The Regional Director directed an election among the full-time employees only, and the company appealed.


The case consolidated with Sturgis involved the Jeffboat Division of American Commercial Marine Service Company, a unionized employer that operates an inland river shipbuilding facility in Jefferson, Indiana. The company has 600 employees in a production and maintenance unit represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 89.

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