In a victory for labor rights advocates and also sanity, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that the McDonald's corporation, as a "joint employer," is actually responsible for all of the revenge firings and other reprisals by the company's franchisees in the wake of fast food workers protesting for better wages.
And holy crap, but there were a lot of complaints. The NLRB has asserted it found 86 cases of McDonald's and/or its franchise underlings punishing workers who engaged in the protests. The reprisals took the form of firings, threats, reduced hours, and discriminatory discipline — basically, anything the franchise owners and the corporation could think of to try scare their employees into line and stop making such unreasonable demands as "a living wage" and "not to be treated like human garbage." The NLRB's general counsel issued a similar ruling earlier this year, but this is the first time the board has actually put it into practice (and thus given McDonald's an avenue to appeal).
It's important once again to remind everyone that franchising (especially in the case of McDonald's) is a complete dodge; McDonald's level of control over its franchisees is such that they can't claim they have no control over what their franchisees do without their pants spontaneously combusting. This makes McDonald's response to the NLRB's eye-poke particularly funny/vomit-inducing:
The company said it has been the target of a union-financed campaign and is only defending itself against an attack on its business.
Let's try that again, but with a version that omits the truth a bit less, shall we?
The company said it has been the target of a union-financed campaign, though it's unclear how they intend this idiotic statement to be in any way an insult towards their opponents or a defense of their own practices, and is only defending itself against an attack on its ludicrously unethical business.
There we go. Much better.
It's important to remember that this is quite possibly only a temporary victory: because the NLRB finally made an official ruling on a specific case, the cases can ultimately be appealed within the federal court system. This is worrisome for fairly obvious reasons: if this goes to the current Supreme
Collection of Naz'Gul Court, Antonin Scalia will probably try to argue that fast food workers have a legal obligation to allow their children to be ground up and used as fertilizer for the rose gardens of top McDonald's executives. Still, this is a good first step, and who knows? Maybe by the time the case gets that high, the court will have a decidedly less evil complexion. One can dream, anyway.
Image via AP.