A true blockbuster this afternoon as the NY Times reports that an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that McDonalds Corporation and not just its franchisees is responsible for the treatment of its workers.  In other words, the long standing practices of the fast food industry and potentially many other franchise operators defending themselves by claiming that their franchisees are responsible for fair wages and working conditions would no longer work as they have.

The heart of the story:

Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said that of the 181 unfair labor practice complaints filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees over the last 20 months, he found that 43 had merit on such grounds as illegally firing or threatening workers for pro-union activities.

In those cases, Mr. Griffin said he would include McDonald’s as a joint employer, a classification that could hold the fast-food company responsible for actions taken at thousands of its restaurants. Roughly 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants in the United States are franchise operations.

As fast-food workers and labor advocates have been pressuring McDonald’s and other restaurant chains to adopt a $15 wage floor, the companies have often said that they don’t set employee wages, the franchise owners do. That defense would be weakened considerably by the workers’ push to have them declared joint employers.

Despite the massive efforts by corporate America to cripple and destroy the union movement, they and a growing number of brave workers have been fighting back, especially in the drive for fair working conditions and a fair minimum wage.

McDonalds has (surprise) responded by calling the ruling "outrageous" and undoubtedly will challenge it.

Right wing Republicans have been trying for years now to cripple the NLRB by blocking sufficient appointments to the board to render it toothless and cutting its budget.

What is interesting here is that this ruling came from the NLRB's general counsel and apparently not from the full Board.  Perhaps other members of the Kos community with a better understanding of the Board's processes can add more on this wrinkle.  

Now to see if the ruling holds up and even more interesting....just how far and wide the consequences would spread if it does.  Undoubtedly, corporate America is going to come down on this with a vengence and will be calling in a lot of chits in the halls of Congress in the process.


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