News & Commentary

March 10, 2016

Opening statements are set to begin today in the McDonald’s hearing before an administrative law judge at the NLRB in New York, the Chicago Tribune reports.  This hearing comes almost two years after the NLRB determined that McDonald’s could be held liable as joint employers for franchise operator labor law violations.  On one side, the International Franchise Association warns that holding McDonald’s liable as a joint employer would gradually destroy the franchise model.  On the other, supporters of the designation explain joint employer status would allow labor unions to bargain directly with companies over terms and conditions of employment.

The CEO of Intel announced earlier this week that the company is embarking on a mission to examine how it pays under-represented minorities, including Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans.  According to the Huffington Post, the company’s audit will cover about 50,000 employees nationwide at all levels, and Intel will publish the results and the end of the year.  According to the Post and Census data, the racial pay gap has grown over the past few decades: in 1979, black men made 78 cents for every dollar white men made; today, black men make 70 cents on the dollar.  Intel has made diversity a priority over the past decade, but as of 2015, only 3.5 percent of its employees were African-American.  In February, Intel announced the results of its first-ever gender pay audit: there was no gap between what men and women make.

Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post takes a closer look at two leading individuals in government advancing labor law.  Richard Griffin, general counsel and chief prosecutor at the NLRB, brought the case on behalf of McDonald’s workers alleging McDonalds is a joint employer of franchise employees (which will start up in court again today) and last year’s Browning Ferris Industries.  David Weil joined the Department of Labor as wage and hour administrator in 2014, after almost ten years of the post remaining empty, and has worked to update the department to reflect today’s economy, specifically taking on the issue of misclassification.  The two now face resistance from several industries, especially the International Franchise Association.

Looking abroad, workers in Paris came out in the thousands yesterday to protest the government’s plan to reform France’s labor code, the New York Times reports.  France’s unemployment rate is relatively fixed at over 10 percent, and Socialist Prime Minister Manual Valls says he “is determined to fix a ‘broken’ French system that has left employers so fearful of long-term hires that 90 percent of jobs created in France last year were unstable, poorly paid and short term.”  The main reform provision would put a cap on payouts to laid-off employees and limit the discretion of labor court judges awarding huge payouts.  Government officials in France’s Socialist party are determined to stop the reform from passing, and thousands of workers, union officials, and especially students rallied in demonstration against the proposals.  Those supporting reform argue, however, that the increased levels of protection for existing workers is detrimental to the labor market and more vulnerable workers.

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