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MailTribune.com
  • McDonald's is 'joint employer' with franchisees, says labor board

  • McDonald's Corp. said Tuesday that the National Labor Relations Board informed it that it will start allowing workers filing labor complaints to treat the fast-food giant as a "joint employer" with its franchisees.
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  • McDonald's Corp. said Tuesday that the National Labor Relations Board informed it that it will start allowing workers filing labor complaints to treat the fast-food giant as a "joint employer" with its franchisees.
    The decision, which McDonald's said was delivered by phone, could have wide-reaching implications because about 89 percent of McDonald's more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants are owned by franchisees.
    The Illinois-based hamburger chain quickly came out against the decision.
    "This relationship does not establish a joint employer relationship under the law," Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources at McDonald's USA, said in a statement regarding the corporation's relationship with its franchisees. "This decision to allow unfair labor practice complaints to allege that McDonald's is a joint employer with its franchisees is wrong. McDonald's will contest this allegation in the appropriate forum."
    Groups weighed in fast.
    "The staff decision issued today by the National Labor Relations Board recommending that McDonald's and its franchisees should be considered joint employers gives a whole new meaning to the word 'outrageous,' " National Retail Federation Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a statement from the trade group.
    McDonald's and other fast food operators have been pressured by union groups in recent months to raise wages and improve working conditions. McDonald's and other restaurant operators have said that franchisees are independent business owners who set their own policies. Some worker activists said the decision was proof that McDonald's controls its franchisees more than it claims to.
    "The reality is that McDonald's requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there's no doubt who's really in charge," Micah Wissinger, an attorney at Levy Ratner who brought the case on behalf of McDonald's workers in New York City, said in a statement provided by a public relations firm representing workers fighting for $15 hourly wages and a union.
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