Joint-Employer Rule Upheld by Judge a Win for Workers and Allies

In the ongoing saga of corporations versus workers and their various ragtag allies, workers and their allies won a victory recently. A judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld an Obama-issued regulation from the NLRB that corporations are responsible for the actions of their subordinate firms.

In the ongoing saga of corporations versus workers and their various ragtag allies, workers and their allies won a victory recently. A judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld an Obama-issued regulation from the National Relations Board (NLRB) that corporations are responsible for the actions of their subordinate firms.

This has been fought in the courts for three years and known as Browning Ferris after the company in the initial lawsuit that was said to be controlling the conditions of the workers of a secondary company. The Teamsters were seeking to unionize the workers at a recycling plant operated by Browning who had been hired by a temp agency.

Microsoft has been an amicus curiae or friend of the court of Browning Ferris Industries of California Inc. So has the International Franchise Association which lobbies for corporations and the interests of their franchisees. The National Restaurant Association, the lobbying group for restaurants, was also adamantly opposed the rule, as were the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Associated Builders and Contractors who were also amicus curiae.

Many corporations have been outsourcing the majority of their work or business to third party companies and subsequently claim no responsibility over the issues of their franchisees. McDonald’s is a particularly notable case of this. They have claimed they cannot force their subordinate locations to raise wages when pressed by the Fight for 15 and the SEIU which has been seeking to unionize their restaurants.

But McDonald’s is hardly alone in exploiting this loophole in labor law which is need of modernization. Many, many other multinational corporations operate in a similar manner where they wash their hands of the liabilities related to their workforce.

However, late in his administration, President Obama issued a regulation to address the issue which said that the corporate parent and their franchisees were joint employers and thus both liable for their workers. However, corporations and their numerous minions have been fighting this tooth and nail.

A law passed by Congress would have been more effective, but that was not an option at the time due to Republican control of Congress. In fact, House Republicans in the last Congress passed a law that would have done the opposite. Thankfully it stalled in the Senate.

When Trump came to power, he quickly sided with the corporate interests that sought to squash the joint-employer rule, lest it eat into their profits. His subsequent appointees followed suit.

Thus this victory is fairly significant and cause to rejoice for those who do not benefit from corporations forgoing responsibility.

This could make it a lot easier to force corporations to make changes to the numerous locations that bear their name and products that would benefit workers.

For unions and their allies that seek to help workers, fighting franchisees that usually have less than 40 workers, going one by one for hundreds of locations  isn’t a good option since each one puts up a massive level of opposition.

Rather, it is far more easier to only organize a few and bring the media to protest of HQ.

Franchisees generally have little latitude over their respective stores. They mostly have to follow orders from HQ that are exceedingly specific. If HQ authorizes a commercial for a special deal, the franchisees have to offer that deal.

Given the nature of how much corporate interests disdain labor and seek total control, this may not be the end of this chapter.

Stay tuned.

 

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Misclassification of 1099 Workers

With the cold upon us here in New Jersey, I trust you are staying warm.

The election made for a busy October that resulted in a House of Representatives that will look more favorably on labor issues, which we are very happy about. Thus, we did not have our October meeting. But we’re back at it this month.

Our next meeting is next Monday, November 26th at 7 pm at 7 Silvester Court East Brunswick, NJ 08816.

For those who cannot join us in person, please use this link:

https://zoom.us/j/439054419

We are beginning to explore addressing employee misclassification whereby workers are called “Independent Contractors” or 1099 workers but treated as regular employees and not given the freedom of an Independent Contractor nor the benefits associated with being a traditional employee. This is a widespread problem in the United States.

We want to explore avenues to organize white-collar independent contractors and initiate legal action on their behalf.

We will also be discussing our efforts at fundraising.

We are also beginning to fundraise to buy campaign materials. Please donate here!

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/awa-workers

In addition, please listen to an interview I did for a podcast discussing AWA:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/surn/2018/11/16/pride-of-olympus?fbclid=IwAR33uuu3pynrAWEg6zNIgU-fk3r-phVEstfX7QVZIlZ_cH-Zbpw2WLqspuo

Happy Thanksgiving!

In solidarity,

Dan

Daniel L. Ulloa
President
American Workforce Association

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Janus and the Future

The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public sector unions today in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees by forcing them to service members who do not have to pay their fair share of fees for the services they receive.

Hi,

My thoughts below on today’s Supreme Court ruling:
The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public sector unions today in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees by forcing them to service members who do not have to pay their fair share of fees for the services they receive.

The decision has been expected for two years. In 2016, when a similar decision was expected, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died and it seemed President Obama had an opportunity to shift the court to the left. However, his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who had a good labor record, was not even given a hearing by the Republican-controlled Senate.

While some will say eliminating the cost of public sector workers is necessary to not cut other programs nor make taxes excessively high, the tax structure should not be designed to overly burden the working and middle class while the upper class can afford new taxes.

Janus is the latest in a long series of defeats for the labor movement.

Public employee unions have been on the defensive for a long time.  Private sector unions have already been largely decimated with the except of Building Trades unions in the construction industry.

Labor unions were under attack under Obama on the state level most notably in Wisconsin under Scott Walker but also in several states which became Right to Work became law under which it is not necessary to join a union and thereby becoming a free rider.

On the federal level, conservative opposition blocked a number of labor reforms in Congress. Obama was also the only Democratic President to not have raised the minimum wage. Even George W. Bush raised the minimum wage once it was passed by a Democratic Congress.

In addition, some of the few reforms Obama was able to enact via regulation are being undone by Trump or struck down by reactionary judges interpreting the law for their own ends.

And while unemployment is down, a third of the country is working two jobs to survive due to the uneven economic recovery.

This is what happens when you have a reactionary billionaire class subverting democracy and a crook desecrating the White House.

Labor unions at their height raised the American standard of living to the highest in the world, served as a pillar of the Democratic Party, and funded several progressive causes, including the Civil Rights movement. With their decline, wages are stagnant and we have a generation that will deal with the negative effects of fewer economic opportunities for decades to come.

What is to be done?

It is important to vote of course and call your elected officials to urge them to support you. Donating money allows one more access to politicians and thereby giving advocates the best place to make their case. Advocacy is most effective when sympathetic politicians are already in office and public opinion is on your side.

But quite often the public is divided on an issue and politicians think that being moderate will sway sufficient voters when they are up for re-election.

What has been consistently effective is mass protest, especially when it is disruptive. An example in recent memory would be the airport protest against Trump’s travel ban where massive crowds and cab drivers refused to drive passengers to the airport led to a judge ruling against the ban.

Or think of Rosa Parks defying Jim Crow laws. Her effort sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and its victory which in turn sparked the battles and victories won by the Civil Rights movement which often used civil disobedience to ignite passion in the hearts of people which ultimately helped push the legislation through.

Civil disobedience is where you turn when the government no longer represents you and when you cannot match the money or the insider influence of the other side. And that is where unions and their allies must turn now in the fight for economic justice.

It was through the sit-down strikes led by Auto Workers in Flint which sparked strikes through the country and gave the union the position to make a deal that ultimately raised the living standard for millions in the United States.

It is to civil disobedience that union and their allies need to turn. Mass, disruptive has proven exceedingly effective in red states like West Virginia and Oklahoma where one would not expect unions to win.

In the majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote that “agency fees cannot be upheld on the ground that they promote an interest in ‘labor peace.’” “Labor peace” is the idea that unions keep workers operating in a docile fashion and avoid unnecessary strikes that disrupt business. We have had “labor peace” for far too long at the expense of everyone who needs to earn a paycheck for far too long.

 

Thank you for reading.

In solidarity,

 

Dan

 

Daniel L. Ulloa

President

American Workforce Association

(908) 421-1422

Americanworkforce1@gmail.com

Americanworkforce.net

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