The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently criticized a hospital’s challenge to a National Labor Relations Board rule limiting the number and types of bargaining units that are allowed in acute-care facilities.

The NLRB’s Health Care Rule established eight categories of bargaining units and said that combinations of those units could be appropriate if a union sought such an arrangement. But San Miguel Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico, objected to a proposed bargaining unit comprising on-site professionals and nonprofessionals, excluding the guards. The hospital unsuccessfully challenged the rule on grounds that it violated the National Labor Relations Act.

“That’s a big unit,” said Denise M. Keyser, a Labor and Employment partner with Ballard Spahr. “The hospital was probably not that happy with that. If a unit includes just the nurses or the other professionals, there aren’t as many limitations on the employer’s discretion. The hospital was facing a situation where it really wouldn’t have been able to make any changes to terms and conditions of employment anywhere until it dealt with this unit.”

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