By Cole Stangler August 27 2015
More than two years ago, the so-called Fight For 15 launched high-profile protests at fast-food joints with what seemed an audacious demand: “$15 and a union.” Since then, several major cities have moved to meet the first part of the rallying cry. Now, a landmark ruling from the National Labor Relations Board has brought the slogan’s other half within striking distance.
In a 3-2 decision that brings sweeping new legal accountability to fast-food corporations and other employers that rely on franchisees and subcontractors, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has expanded its definition of what constitutes a “joint employer.”
“It is not the goal of joint-employer law to guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers, while maintaining control of the workplace,” wrote a majority for the board, which oversees labor relations in most of the private sector. “Such an approach has no basis in the [National Labor Relations Act] or in federal labor policy.”
The decision stems from workers’ attempts to organize a union at Browning-Ferris Industries, a New Jersey waste management company. But its significance extends to workplaces across the country.
Noam Scheiber, New York Times |Aug 24, 2015
McDonald’s long ago went global. Lately, the anti-¬McDonald’s campaign has started following it around the world.
The union-¬led effort to raise wages and organize workers at fast-¬food chains in the United States is expanding its focus beyond organized protests at home — its key point of leverage for almost three years — to highlighting McDonald’s actions abroad in hopes that foreign regulators will bring further pressure to bear on the company.
The efforts are intended to build on the success of the anti¬-McDonald’s campaign in raising wages for fast¬-food workers in the United States, particularly in New York State.
But it is also a tacit acknowledgment that the campaign’s second major goal, a union for workers at McDonald’s and other fast¬-food restaurants, remains elusive. The activists plan to turn their attention to McDonald’s in the overseas markets where its operations have been more lucrative recently as a way of drawing the company to the bargaining table in this country.
“I see this conversation as a departure point from a campaign that publicly has been seen as strikes and demands around $15 and the union,” Mr. Courtney said. “We intend to lay out what we can, what we what we know at this point, then embark on taking our case to other forums over the fall, into next year as we need to.”
To that end, dozens of legislators, union leaders and McDonald’s workers from around the world have converged this week in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil — most of them at the S.E.I.U.‘s expense — to draw attention to their accusations against McDonald’s.