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.    

***

          

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

More ...

A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder