Who’s The Boss?

McDonald’s isn’t “loving it” anymore.  In a ruling made public on July 28, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., found that McDonald’s is a joint employer under the law with its franchisees and therefore liable for the franchisees’ anti-worker behavior.  Over the last two years, 181 McDonald’s employees filed unfair labor practices against the company and its franchisees alleging that they were illegally fired, disciplined and/or threatened for their union organizing activity.  Mr. Griffin found merit in forty-three of the complaints and authorized them to go forward against McDonald’s as a joint employer.  Sixty-four complaints are still under investigation.

At least ninety percent of McDonald’s restaurants in the United States are franchises.  McDonald’s, and presumably other fast-food restaurants with similar business models, will no longer be able to hide behind their franchisees and blame them when workers challenge their working conditions before the NLRB.  Fast-food workers, who make an average of $8.90 per hour, have been pushing for a wage floor of $15.00 per hour in a nation-wide movement for several years.  Many of the workers, with the help of the Service Employees International Union, are trying to unionize their restaurants.  Advocates hope that this latest NLRB ruling will help empower more fast-food workers to stand up for their rights and improve their working conditions.

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