Pro-business lawmakers try to kill NLRB’s joint employer rule

WASHINGTON—Abandoning all pretense that they sit on a committee that’s supposed to consider workers’ interests, House Education and the Workforce Committee members introduced a bill to kill the National Labor Relations Board’s joint employer rule. They even went so far as to name it the “Save Local Business Act.”

The pro-business solons, mostly Republicans but including two renegade Democrats, want to trash the NLRB’s 2015 ruling that says a corporate headquarters of a franchise chain – think McDonald’s, whose actions or lack of them produced the issue – and its local franchise are jointly responsible for obeying or breaking labor law. The AFL-CIO calls their legislation “harmful and misguided.”

Their measure, HR3441, “would take away workers’ essential freedoms protected by the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act since they were adopted in the 1930s,” says AFL-CIO General Counsel Lynn Rhinehart.

It does so by enacting “a ridiculously narrow definition of an employer. The definition is narrower than any used by any agency or court, and it would take freedoms from too many workers and allow irresponsible companies to violate workers’ rights,” she adds.

The NLRB used the McDonald’s case for its joint employer rule because McDonald’s local franchises, following corporate policy, have been breaking labor law in union organizing drives, but headquarters’ policy has been immune from NLRB action. The lawmakers, led by notoriously anti-union Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., want to keep it that way, under the disguise of helping the local franchise holders, which they claim are small businesses.

Byrne says HR3441 “rolls back the extreme joint employer scheme, to protect” entrepreneurs. His Education and the Workforce subcommittee will handle the measure – the latest anti-worker bill from the committee’s right-wing majority.

Using typical party rhetoric, a GOP-generated fact sheet on HR3441 says it would amend two basic U.S. labor laws “to clarify that two or more employers must have ‘actual, direct, and immediate’ control over employees to be considered joint employers.” That would “roll back a convoluted joint employer scheme that threatens job creation and undermines the American Dream,” the fact sheet alleges.

The bill would “restore a commonsense definition of employer to provide certainty and stability for workers and employers” and protect businesses “from future overreach by unelected bureaucrats and activist judges,” the fact sheet argues.

Source: PAI