Jan 28, 2015 - 12:45pm

Here are 2 Ways the NLRB Intends to Increase Union Membership


Senior Editor, Digital Content

As the chart above shows, union membership continues to decline, despite the National Labor Relations Board efforts to tip the scales in favor of unions. Sean Redmond from the Workforce Freedom Initiative writes:

The NLRB seemingly has taken the unions’ pleadings to heart.  It has issued a series of increasingly bizarre decisions establishing new interpretations of labor law, and published the infamous ambush election rule, which will give unions tremendous advantages in organizing campaigns while undermining employers’ ability to share balanced information with workers.  In addition, the agency is poised to redefine the so-called “joint-employer” standard, making businesses liable for workers they don’t actually employ.

Here are two ways the NLRB is helping unions.

1. Joint Employer Standard

Last December, the NLRB’s General Counsel issued labor complaints against McDonald’s and McDonald’s franchisees as “joint employers.” This runs roughshod over decades of settled labor law.

While the franchise model has been successful for restaurants, Redmond points out that it has been a barrier to union organizing:

For unions, however, the franchise model has presented a hurdle to organizing because franchisors and franchisees have long been recognized as separate businesses.  Companies like McDonald’s do not involve themselves in the day-to-day hiring and firing decisions and other relevant elements of employment at franchises, such as rates of pay.  Thus, the franchisee and franchisor have not been treated as joint employers, because that is not what they are.

Linking franchisees and franchisors more closely together will give union more opportunity to organize at the expense of the franchise model.

Franchise business leaders understand they’re under attack. An International Franchise Association survey found that 97% of franchise owners and franchisors think the joint employer ruling will have a negative effect on their businesses. Bill Bass, a franchisee with Two Men and a Truck, told National Review:

This joint employee-employer thing, if that goes through, that’s a hand grenade in the middle of the franchising business model. It would completely change everything about the franchising model, to the point where we probably wouldn’t be in franchising.

2. Ambush Elections

As Redmond wrote previously, an NLRB final rule on ambush elections released late last year “will significantly shorten the time period for union certification elections and enact dramatic changes to pre- and post- election procedures.”

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber, filed suit to stop the rule. Randy Johnson, U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits said:

The NLRB’s rule drastically accelerates the union election process, depriving employers of their right to explain to employees the impacts of unionizing. Furthermore, we question the need for the regulation given that 95 percent of all elections are now conducted within two months and that unions win more than two-thirds of them.

Union-friendly overreach has been the NLRB’s M.O. Expect that to continue.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.