News & Commentary

February 12, 2015

This post is part of an ongoing of series on the fast food organizing movement. You can read all our Fast Food News here.

Politico and The Hill report that The International Franchising Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, and other major business groups have launched The Coalition to Save Small Businesses. The coalition is part of the industry’s continued lobbying efforts in response to the National Labor Relations Board general counsel’s decision to charge McDonald’s as a joint employer. The standard would hold franchising restaurants, such as McDonald’s, responsible for the labor violations of their franchisees. However, according to the coalition, this would completely devastate the franchising model. The coalition plans to encourage lawmakers to oppose the NLRB’s decision and will launch a coordinated advertising and public relations campaign in opposition of the new NLRB standard.

However, in the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis took a closer look at the claims broadly made by members of the new Coalition to Save Small Business, as well as other pro-business groups such as the Job Creators Network, regarding the joint employer standard. These organizations have claimed that the NLRB’s decision could destroy hundreds of thousands of small business by dismantling the franchising model, but DePillis points out that not all franchisors are created equally. The NLRB has claimed that some large franchisors, like McDonald’s, have exerted near complete control over franchisees, thus leading to the general counsel’s joint employer decision. However, according to DePillis, a franchisor that actually allows for true autonomy would not fall under any new standard since the NLRB’s joint employer determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Another fear of these coalitions is the unionization of franchises, but again there is little to suggest that making certain franchisors joint employers would lead to unionization without any other changes.

Protests for increased wages at McDonald’s have spread to South Korea, according to the International Business Times. The protests began this past weekend, with several demonstrators marching from Sogang University in Seoul to several McDonald’s locations which protestors then occupied and held placards that stated “We are human too” and “McDonald’s, the best place to exploit part-time workers.” According to the Korea Observer, part-time McDonald’s workers in Korea earn a minimum wage of 5,580 won ($5.10) per hour and are demanding a raise to 10,000 won ($9.11) per hour. The protestors claim that the only positions that are not part-time positions are managers, and that the company has arbitrarily adjusted schedules in order to maintain the part-time status of its employees. McDonald’s has issued a statement refuting these claims, insisting that it has complied by Korean labor laws.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the National Labor Relations Board’s Philadelphia office has agreed to hear complaints filed by Au Bon Pain employees at the Philadelphia International Airport. The charges filed allege that the company violated provisions of the National Labor Relations Act by making coercive statements to interfere with the rights of its employees to participate in union activities and by discouraging them from organizing. In particular, Unite Here, the group advocating for the Au Bon Pain workers, alleges that the CEO attempted to discourage unionization and that a regional manager promised child care payments to an employee in order to discourage any union activities. According to Law360, Au Bon Pain has released a statement that claims the items alleged have no factual or legal merit and that it has “acted in full conformity with its legal obligations.”

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