In most large food chain corporations, franchises are treated almost like small businesses, where menus may vary from location to location, and labor issues are treated at the franchise level. But for McDonald’s, that may soon be changing. The National Labor Relations Board just ruled that McDonald’s as a corporation is now responsible for the labor issues and employee conditions within their independent 3,000 franchises. This, experts argue, would be the first step toward unionization, and would go hand-in-hand with the nationwide “fight for 15,” or the strikes that have been going on across the country, where fast food workers have been pleading for a livable $15 an hour wage.
The recent ruling is currently being contested by McDonald’s, which claims that the relationship between corporation and franchise is not a joint one.
“McDonald’s believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States,” Heather Smedstad , senior vice president Human Resources, McDonald’s, told The Daily Meal. “McDonald’s does not direct or co-determine the hiring, termination, wages, hours, or any other essential terms and conditions of employment of our franchisees’ employees.”
So what does this mean in the long run? Fast food companies will have to keep a more watchful eye on their franchisees unless they want to get caught up in one labor scuffle after another.
“McDonald’s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today’s determination by the NLRB shows there’s no two ways about it: The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,” Micah Wissinger, an attorney who brought the case on behalf of McDonald’s workers in New York City, said in a statement.