Workers Reject Deal Between McDonalds and National Labor Board

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Fight For $15 And A Union, the labor-backed drive to empower low-wage workers nationwide, rejected a deal between the Trump-named National Labor Relations Board and McDonald’s on April 5. The settlement would have given harmed workers back pay but would also shunt aside the major issue in the case, the joint responsibility of corporate headquarters and their local franchise-holders for obeying or breaking labor law.

The massive fast food firm and NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb – its top enforce-ment officer -- presented their closed-door agreement to NLRB Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito in New York. But it needed Fight For 15’s OK to go ahead. There, Fight For 15’s lawyer, Micah Wissinger, bounced it.

So did Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry, whose union is the top backer of Fight For 15.

“We can’t let them (corporations) get away with off-loading employees to their franchisees,” Henry told a National Consumers League-sponsored conference on wage and hour law the week before the New York hearing. “At this moment, McDonald’s is trying to get away with it through negotiating with Trump’s NLRB General Counsel.”

“The deal was improper because it did not hold McDonald’s responsible for unlawful retaliation against workers who took part in nationwide protests calling for higher wages” at the fast food firm, Wissinger’s firm, Levy Ratner, said in a statement.

The deal, or lack of it, is important, because of the wide impact of the key issue involved: Whether a corporate headquarters is equally responsible with its local franchises for obeying or breaking labor law.

As long as franchise holders could be separated from headquarters in occupations with millions of workers – hotel chains, fast food restaurants, drug stores and more – the workers could boomerang from pillar (headquarters) to post (the local owner) in trying to win their union rights, bargain or get back pay. The McDonald’s case aimed to end that back-and-forth.

Beginning in 2012, Fight For 15 has been arguing for, and pushing cases about, holding both headquarters and franchise-holders jointly responsible. When Democrats held an NLRB majority, former General Counsel Richard Griffin favored that position.

The fast food firm agreed to $1 million in back pay for harmed workers, but not the key joint employer issue, which is also a bugaboo of Congress’ ruling Republicans. Fight For 15’s “no” keeps the issue alive.

The NLRB’s own statement made it clear McDonald’s settled to avoid lawsuits over the back pay. NLRB claimed the settlement would “represent a full remedy for the employees who have waited since the first charges were filed in November of 2012 and, if approved, would avoid years of possible additional litigation.”

On a related issue, two days before the latest hearing, McDonald’s workers took to the streets in 16 cities to protest the firm’s reneging on promised raises that would take them $1 per hour above federal, state or local minimum wages, whichever was highest.

“McDonald’s publicity stunt has turned out to be a sham,” worker Kayla Kuper told Reuters. She earns $11.40 hourly at a McDonald’s corporate store – not a franchise -- in Chicago. The city’s minimum wage is $12 an hour.

“We can’t take this company at its word. That’s why we need union rights – so that we can hold McDonald’s accountable and win the decent wage and basic benefits we need to support our families,” Kuper said.    

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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