In the 2016 election, labor unions spent nearly $110 million on their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. They donated so much more in terms of volunteers on the campaign and political activists, only to find that voters in many union stronghold states voted against their union-friendly candidate.
The unions failed in 2016, but that hasn’t changed their focus. They still want to pour millions of dollars into the coffers of politicians who will help them game the system. And right now, thanks to an egregiously political ruling by the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), they’ve got their sights set on unionizing private sector franchise-granting chains like McDonald’s, Anytime Fitness, or 7-Eleven. Unions are rapidly losing membership, and this ruling would help them expand their base of dues-paying members. If the SEIU used this ruling to organize just half of McDonald’s workforce, they would stand to make $155 million more in dues per year. You can bet that much of that money would find its way back to Democratic candidates.
You see, most of the workers at franchises are not employees of the parent company. For example, most McDonald’s employees are not actually employees of the brand name company McDonald’s. Individual, mom-and-pop owners pay McDonald’s money to be able to use their name and products to make a living. Therefore, before the NLRB’s “joint employer” ruling, unions attempted to unionize all the workers in one restaurant but could not include all franchised fast-food workers at once, under one corporate chain.
By abandoning long-standing precedent and absurdly ruling that these workers were joint employees both of the business’s local owners AND of the corporate franchise granter, the Obama administration opened up franchises to massive organization efforts. The current NLRB is trying to reintroduce some sanity by changing the rule, but they are under intense pressure from activists and congressional Democrats including Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray to keep the destructive rule in place.
The longer it stays, the more uncertainty exists for franchise granters and grantees, which will raise the price of franchises and hurt workers. Fortunately, there is a faster solution that can quickly put an end to this ridiculous status quo.
Last November, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the Save Local Business Act (SLBA). The bill reverses the rule in a heartbeat, returning the rule to decades of NLRB precedent that helped franchises provide 7.6 million jobs and inject $674 billion into the economy in recent years. Since the Senate did not pass the SLBA, we now need Republican leadership to include this important bill in the must-pass omnibus spending bill that’s currently being put together. This would make it much harder for opportunistic progressives to take SLBA down on its own. Its passage would help franchised small businesses know that the Republican leadership in Congress really is on their side.
Zach Almond is the former Chairman of the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans and the founder of Uwharrie Consulting.