March 6, 2024

Amaury Pineda

Congress Should Stand with Working People 


  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was created nearly a century ago to protect workers’ rights. An important provision of this law requires that the people who profit off the labor of workers be held responsible for attempted union-busting even if they don’t necessarily sign the workers’ paychecks. 
  • In 2023, the NLRB took action to prevent corporations from continuously using loopholes in the law to avoid being held responsible for union busting. The NLRB published a new standard – the “joint employer” rule – an action that would allow workers to more easily organize for better wages and working conditions. 
  • The joint-employer rule sets a legal and clear standard to determine when two or more employers (ex. McDonald’s corporation and a McDonald’s franchise owner) are both responsible for their obligations to allow their workers to organize without retaliation and to bargain with them if they choose to form a union, ensuring that more of the people who hoard profits will be accountable to negotiate with workers, as well as face charges and fines for union-busting. 

Attacks on joint-employer standards are attacks on low-wage workers and their ability to organize. Wealthy CEOs, their lobbyists, and politicians on the right have attacked joint-employer standards for decades. During the 1980s, a conservative National Labor Relations Board whittled the definition of joint-employer status to benefit corporations and dissolve protections for a variety of workers. 

Because of a weakened joint employer standard, employers have developed several strategies to evade consequences for union-busting or circumvent federal law to bargain in good faith with workers. For example, many corporations use outsourcing, staffing agencies, independent contractor classifications, and franchise models to avoid the duty to negotiate with their workers even as they reap billions of dollars in profits from the labor of their workers. 

Unsurprisingly, CEOs who have repeatedly violated workers’ rights are fighting back against the NLRB’s new ruling to reestablish join employer standards. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski – who made more than $20 million in 2021 alone – “warned” the public of how such a ruling could destroy their business and franchise models. These unfounded attacks are to be expected. CEOs are heavily compensated to ensure these giant corporations keep profits for themselves and shareholders, and not the workers struggling to survive on sub-minimum wages. 

The CEO’s attack comes at the same time that companies run by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Brian Palbaum, head of Trader Joe’s, have argued that the NLRB itself is an unconstitutional agency. 

Even more concerning is that the House of Representatives passed a measure to overturn the NLRB’s rule with unanimous support from Republicans along with the support of eight Democrats.  It is shameful that some politicians in Congress have taken up this fight against working people. 

Watch this space as we monitor these outlandish attacks on the NLRB and stay tuned as we cover how working people are fighting back through policy.  

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