The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been funding and organizing protests by and in support of fast food workers. While the protests have focused publicly on the demand for a $15 per hour wage, the real goal of the movement is for the SEIU to unionize fast food workers. Yesterday’s ruling by the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board is a big step toward the SEIU’s goal.
In response to some of the fast food worker protests a number of McDonald’s franchisees have taken actions against workers, including firing some. Workers, with help from the SEIU, have filed claims with the NLRB stating violations of labor laws and claiming that they really work for McDonald’s, the franchiser, not their actual employers.
The NLRB general counsel has just issued a ruling that the various separate claims can be treated together and that McDonald’s is a joint employer. Legally this is akin to turning the franchise owners into corporate co-managers and all the restaurant workers into employees of corporate headquarters in addition to their local small businesses.