The National Labor Relations Board has finally come to a decision on the definition of the employee-employer relationship—making it easier for fast food workers to unionize.
This new defintion could have broad-spanning repercussions for how labor negotiations are handled between franchisees and the corporate office.
Now, unionized employees at franchise locations will be empowered to not only negotiate with the individual restaurant, but also with corporate headquarters.
While many multi-unit restaurants disagree with the notion that the corporate office should be held liable for potential violations of workers’ rights on the franchise level because of their often minimal and indirect control of these conditions (most companies do not hire, train, or supervise the employees at franchises), the labor board held that corporations should be held responsible at all levels for the maintenance of workers’ rights.
“It is not the goal of joint-employer law to guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers, while maintaining control of the workplace,” the Democratic majority wrote, addressing the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act. “Such an approach has no basis in the act or in federal labor policy.”
This ruling may have an immediate effect on ongoing litigation involving the McDonald’s Corporation and several of its franchisees, and comes at a time when movements to unionize are on the rise.