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NLRB announces new rule making it harder to challenge franchises for labor-law violations

NLRB announces new rule making it harder to challenge franchises for labor-law violations
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A newly-introduced National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regulation, set to take effect in April, would make it more difficult for workers to hold companies responsible for labor violations by individual franchises.

The rule reverses an Obama-era NLRB policy that deemed companies like McDonald’s to be “joint employers” and thus responsible for franchise-level violations such as retaliatory firings for union organizing, The New York Times reported.

The new regulation also applies to employees of contractors such as cleaning services or staffing agencies, according to the newspaper.

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“This final rule gives our joint-employer standard the clarity, stability and predictability that is essential to any successful labor-management relationship and vital to our national economy,” John F. Ring, the board’s chairman, said in a statement.

Fight for $15, a labor rights group working to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, blasted the rule in a statement.

“The new NLRB joint employer rule is just the latest example of the Trump Administration doing McDonald’s bidding. President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE has let giant corporations like McDonald’s take control of our government and democracy,” Jennifer Berry, a Milwaukee McDonald’s worker involved in attempts to organize a union in her workplace, said in a statement from the group.

“But workers like me know who our boss is: McDonald’s. We wear the company’s uniform, serve its Big Macs and fries and help make its billions in profits possible,” she added. “We’ll continue joining together and speaking out until McDonald’s acknowledges its responsibility for workers like me instead of hiding behind the fiction of a franchise system it pioneered to screw us over.”

A 2019 Bloomberg report found evidence of McDonald’s coordinating anti-union efforts directly from headquarters

The National Employment Law Project also condemned the rule, with executive director Rebecca Dixon saying “Too many employers ... use temp agencies and subcontractors to try to duck responsibility for workplace violations and to squelch worker organizing and collective action for mutual aid and protection.

The idea that employers are responsible for such entities’ conduct, Dixon said, “has now been eviscerated by the Trump NLRB’s final rule on joint employment. The result is that outsourcing employers will more easily evade responsibility for the working conditions in their businesses.”