The Obama administration on Thursday made it a lot easier for unions to organize workers at fast-food restaurants and other workplaces.
In a 3-to-2 vote on party lines, the National Labor Relations Board updated its “joint employer” standard by tightening the relationship between workers at a subcontractor or franchise and a parent company.
The board updated the standard because the decades-old regulation was “increasingly out of step with changing economic circumstances, the three-person majority — all Democrats — wrote in a 21-page decision.
While the decision was on a case involving a recycling center owned and operated by Browning-Ferris and staffed by a company called Leadpoint Business Services, its reach will extend to fast food chains like McDonald’s, experts said.
The case involved the term “joint employer” and whether a corporate office actually controlled workers at, say, a franchise.
Franchisors claim they don’t hire, schedule, discipline or fire franchise workers so they are not the joint employer.
The decision will make it easier for workers, say, at a franchised McDonald’s to bargain with McDonald’s corporate for union representation, those experts said.
“The [NLRB’s] goal is to expand as greatly as possible the ability of unions to engage in collective bargaining with deep-pocketed corporations deemed to be joint employers under today’s broad and extraordinarily elastic definition of that term,” franchisor lawyer David Kaufmann of Kaufmann Gildin & Robbins LLP said.
Indeed, the majority decision claims there is a “need to update [the] standard to best serve the federal policy of ‘encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.’ ”
In a 29-page dissent, the two Republican NLRB members called the decision “the most sweeping” the board has made in recent years.
The minority claims the NLRB is overstepping its bounds and making laws only Congress is empowered to do.
Plus, it noted, the joint-employer test implemented is confusing.
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