News & Commentary

August 26, 2015

Business leaders have begun ramping up efforts to meet with legislators in anticipation of the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris decision, expected this week. According to Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post, an organization called the Coalition to Save Local Businesses, consisting of 20 associations including some of the biggest restaurant, hotel, retail, and construction lobby groups in the country, was formed earlier this year. Over the past few months, the Coalition has testified before Congress, run ads, and most recently, hosted a lunch for House minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Their efforts are in anticipation of a potential ruling by the NLRB that would make franchisors and general contractors liable for legal violations of subcontractors, and allow workers to bargain directly with businesses at the top of the chain.

In the Browning-Ferris case, a Teamsters local tried to organize workers for the recycling company, hired through a temporary staffing agency called Leadpoint, and sought to bargain not only with Leadpoint, but also with Browning-Ferris as a joint employer. In a different case in 2014, the General Counsel of the NLRB stepped in to issue complaints against McDonald’s as a joint employer along with its franchisees. Catherine Fisk analyzed the two cases and their possible impact for OnLabor last year. According to Politico, workplace advocates and business groups all generally agree that the NLRB will loosen the “joint employer” standard in the decision expected this week, expanding liability for businesses.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a report by the Congressional Budget Office projects more American workers who have been out of the workforce temporarily will return in the coming years, at a faster rate than anticipated. The labor-force participation rate is already at its lowest level since 1970, and will continue to decline as baby boomers retire, but many think that the return to the job market that the CBO forecasts could explain why wages have remained low in spite of recent drops in unemployment.

In layoff news, Politico reports that the bankrupt Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, which operates under the brands A&P, Pathmark, Superfresh, and Food Basics in New Jersey, will lay off over 8,500 in New Jersey by Thanksgiving. The layoffs will occur in 93 stores, according to its latest round of WARN Notice filings with the New Jersey Department of Labor.

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