Workers Score NLRB Win

From the USW

Workers scored a major win earlier this month when a federal court upheld an Obama-era National Labor Review Board (NLRB) ruling finding that corporations could be held responsible for issues like wage discrimination or illegal job termination, even if the employees were subcontractors or working at a franchised company.

The D.C. appellate court affirmed that a business could be considered a so-called joint-employer if it exercised a certain level of “indirect control” over employees’ working conditions. This decision is bound to shake up business groups’ plans to overturn the joint-employer standard, something many believed was certain to happen under the now Republican-controlled NLRB.

“The court is very clear that the determination of who is an employer is a legal question, not a policy question,” said Sam Bagenstos, a University of Michigan law professor. “And for this question, which is determined by common law, the courts decide that without giving any particular deference to the NLRB.”

The original saga of this case began in 2013 when a union petitioned the NLRB to represent Leadpoint Business Services workers, with Browning-Ferris named as a joint-employer, on the basis that the latter also controls the contractors’ wages and working conditions. Using its new and expanded joint-employer test, the NLRB ruled in favor of the workers, prompting Browning-Ferris to fight the decision ever since.

But not anymore.

This decision will also likely affect labor advocates and campaigns, such as Fight for 15, who have been arguing in court for the last few years that McDonald’s should be held liable as a joint-employer for the fast-food workers who were fired from their jobs when they engaged in nationwide protests for higher pay.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

No Money for Pensions, But Plenty for Parties

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Private equity work has been sweet for Marc Leder, the numero uno at Sun Capital Partners. He’s parlayed his takeovers of troubled firms into a fortune big enough to make him a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in basketball and the New Jersey Devils in hockey. New York’s tabloids, meanwhile, have come to dub the hard-partying Leder “the Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons.” The secret to his success? Private-equity firms, notes Center for Economic and Policy Research economist Eileen Appelbaum, plunder assets from the companies they buy, then send them into bankruptcy to sidestep their obligations to workers. Over the past decade alone, Sun Capital has bankrupted five firms and left their pension funds $280 million short. Leder, for his part, claims that the “vast majority” of Sun Capital deals have been successful. And he only parties hearty, the private-equity kingpin adds, 25 nights a year.

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How We Got Here

How We Got Here