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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The NLC Labor Summit and the Crumbling of New Jersey

Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) addressed the NLC Labor Summit Saturday.

By Eddie Rivera

The New Leaders Council’s Labor Summit in Edison on Saturday was a reminder of how New Jersey needs to be a beacon of hope for the labor movement and how far it has fallen. The last eight years with Chris Christie as Governor have derailed the Garden State. New Jersey has fallen behind its neighboring states in every economic measure since the Great Recession. Its credit rating has been downgraded several times. The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development has seen its budget nearly slashed to death and belittled in integrity. The bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour was vetoed last summer and the legislature did not override his veto. State residents are unable to make ends meet. It’s nearly impossible to survive with a low minimum wage and high tuition costs. Imagine raising kids while working three jobs and earning an education. This is a great injustice in a state as prosperous as ours.

In addition, Trump’s presidency has only made it worse. His appointment to the Supreme Court is likely to vote in favor of weakening labor unions while a similar bill is pending in Congress. The regulatory gains made by the Obama Administration in the face opposition are being turned back. His administration is stacked with plutocrats seeking to benefits their cronies at the expense of the American people. As Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) pointed out, there are a handful of individuals in the United States Congress who have been in a labor union.

This weekend’s summit was a reminder to on its laurels in the long war against Hypercapitalism when small gains are achieved. Now is the time to fight for the preservation of the Labor Movement in New Jersey and the country as a whole. We as a state cannot continue to move backward. Now is the opportunity to turn the page and move forward back to the progressive values we in the Garden State hold dear. With so much diversity, New Jersey needs to demonstrate progressivism in all areas of public policy. Each of the panelists has expressed their views on labor with much thought and deliberation.

Without labor, New Jersey cannot function. We need reform to continue robust activity within the transportation, manufacturing, health, education, and customer service sectors. Everyone should be entitled to pension and benefits in their respective fields. I urge everyone to continue the fight for a better New Jersey. Eight years of falling behind the rest of the nation has gone long enough. Let us all come together and make all our dreams come true once again.

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SCOTUS Nominee has Pro-Labor Record

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has had a consistently pro-labor record as a judge

President Barack Obama chose Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, this week to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

At the ceremony announcing Garland’s nomination, Obama declared that “I have selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency modesty, integrity, evenhandedness and excellence.”

While on the bench Garland has been a proponent of judicial restraint in which the judiciary should defer to the Executive Branch. Thus, he supported EPA regulations that require corporations to reduce mercury emissions, regardless of cost. By the same token, he supported 22 pro-labor decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

However, on four cases Garland shied away from his philosophy of judicial restraint in favor of pro-labor policies.

The fact that Garland is far friendlier to labor unions than Scalia ever was will have serious consequences for unions. Any Supreme Court pick by Obama would likely have ruled on labor’s side when it came to the Freidrichs v. California Teachers Association case which the Supreme Court recently began hearing arguments. Had Scalia lived, the court would have reached a 5-4 ruling against public sector unions and cut off member contributions, a major source of union funds.

Now, the Supreme Court will be split on a decision 4-4 and thus the lower court’s decision in favor of unions will likely remain in place.

Who is Merrick Garland?

Garland is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals. Educated at Harvard for both his bachelor’s and a law degree, he served in the Justice Department during both the Carter and Clinton Administrations. After serving in the Justice Department, he received his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

So he’s pretty qualified.

In choosing Garland, Obama sought a figure who would have an impeccable resume and ideally bipartisan support since he previously praised publicly by Senators such as Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who has fought against labor rights for years.

What Happens Next?

It’s going to be a rough fight. In an era of gridlock-inducing issues, a Supreme Court nomination is one of the biggest. Since Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, the opposing party has called the decisions of any nominee “too liberal or “too conservative” and many have been defeated. The process has become so dramatic they’re making a movie about it.

Prominent Democrats have already started rallying behind Garland as the first steps to confirming Garland. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, United Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry have all issued statements supporting Garland. Henry said regarding Garland that “His records shows that he believes in the duty of government to protect regular Americans, and our democracy, from being corrupted by the excesses of the super wealthy and their corporate agenda.”

Senate Republicans have already forcefully declared that any nomination made Obama would be blocked. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).have they will not even allow the Senate to consider Garland.

Unless Obama tries to build a wall on the Mexican border himself, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get Garland confirmed.


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