The fast food chain McDonald’s is now under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for allegedly firing employees who joined unions.
The incidents were reported allegedly happened between November of 2012 and April of this year by a workers group claims that 9 employees were terminated for their union involvement and helping to attempt organize other workers.
While McDonald’s is a franchise model-based business, the case names them specifically in an attempt to draw the line that McDonald’s is an employer — something they have tried to deny for decades. If the NLRB rules in favor of the workers, this could change the structure of not only the McDonald’s franchise model, but countless others.
The president of the International Franchise Association, Steve Calderia claims this would be a bad move for the NLRB and could jeopardize jobs, telling Bloomberg:
“Thousands of small business owners would lose control of the operations and the equity they worked so hard to build,” said Caldeira, who expects a decision in the case soon. “Equally troubling would be the millions of jobs that would be placed in jeopardy.”
A claim that seems to be a bit blown up to strike more fear into employees who are seeking to unionize.
McDonald’s is attempting to claim they have zero control over workers because of the type of business model they have installed and that each franchise owner acts independently and plays a “hands off” approach to employee management.
This is not so says Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, telling Bloomberg via email:
“McDonald’s claims that it has no influence over the wages and working conditions of its employees, but it effectively controls workers’ pay, hours and schedules by controlling every other variable in the business except wages,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “Technological advances allow McDonald’s to watch over its franchisees’ operations like a hawk, in ways that go well beyond simply protecting its brand. A decision in this case should leave no doubt that McDonald’s is an employer and put an end to its self-serving charade that it is not.”
With McDonald’s and other fast food chains under the increasing pressure to raise wages and the looming threat they see of their workers organizing, this decision could quickly change the face of fast food and the way these companies conduct business under the franchise model, finally holding them responsible for the treatment of their workers.