Trump Labor Dept., NLRB jump into joint employer debate


Washington (PAI) — President Donald Trump’s Labor Department and his new Republican majority on the National Labor Relations Board have jumped into the long-running debate over whether a big corporation like McDonald’s should be jointly responsible with their franchises for obeying or breaking labor law. Their joint answer: In almost all cases, no.

And their joint plans could leave millions of workers – restaurant workers, retail workers, warehouse workers, chain motel workers and more – bouncing from pillar to post to find someone either to bargain with or to blame for labor law-breaking.

DOL’s proposed joint employer rule, officially published on September 14, was disclosed two days before by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta in a speech to a hotel owners group. And the Trump-named GOP NLRB majority issued its plan on September 13.

Not only that, but both planned rules mimic legislation the GOP-run House shoved through last year, letting almost all joint employers off the hook.


“Under the proposed rule, an employer may be… a joint-employer of another employer’s employees only if it possesses and exercises substantial, direct and immediate control over the essential terms and conditions of employment and… in a manner not limited and routine,” the GOP board majority said.

Indirect influence and contractual reservations of authority would no longer be sufficient to establish a joint-employer relationship,” it added. The NLRB voted 3-1 on party lines to seek comments on its plan, with an October 28 deadline.

“Rulemaking in this important area of the law would foster predictability, consistency and stability in the determination of joint-employer status,” the NLRB’s new GOP majority claimed.


The GOP majority said its proposal reflects its view “the National Labor Relations Act’s intent is best supported by a joint-employer doctrine that does not draw third parties, who have not played an active role in deciding wages, benefits, or other essential terms and conditions of employment, into a collective-bargaining relationship for another employer’s employees.”

Union-backed ROC and its allies contend that if the corporate headquarters control everything from prices to uniforms to – in fast food restaurants – the size of servings, then headquarters and local franchises should be jointly responsible for labor law, including both contract negotiations and law-breaking charges. McDonald’s, particularly in Philadelphia, was the poster child for proof of that proposition.


The Republican majority on the House Education and the Workforce Committee rammed through the anti-joint employer legislation late in 2017. The Senate has yet to act on the issue.

Now Trump’s NLRB has followed suit. And his DOL is not far behind.


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