McDonald's in Union Crosshairs

Monday, March 14, 2016

A labor trial brought by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) threatens the entire franchise business model used by such fast food restaurants as McDonald's. This would occur because the parent company would be legally re-defined as a joint employer with its franchisee, exposing the parent to lawsuits brought by workers who wish to unionize:

The SEIU, which has been organizing strikes outside fast food restaurants, wants McDonald's USA to sign a "neutrality agreement," an Orwellian term that means the opposite of neutral. This is an arrangement between employers and unions that make the workforce easier to organize.

In most neutrality agreements, companies agree to allow union officials to use work hours to lecture workers about the advantages of joining a union, without presenting an alternative. Unions have access to company premises to distribute information and union-authorization cards. The company must give the union the home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of employees to facilitate easy contact, including visits at home. Companies agree to recognize the union if a certain number of authorization cards are collected, rather than holding a secret ballot election. When employers sign neutrality agreements, they assist in the unionization process.
MarketWatch notes that, unless the judge, a former attorney for the NLRB, recuses herself for conflict of interest, a ruling favorable to the NLRB, higher fast food prices, and, ultimately faster automatization, is likely to follow.

The article outlines a couple of legislative remedies that could help, but I regard either as temporary reprieves at best. Ultimately, we must restore freedom of contract to the workplace.


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