Fed ruling will let more workers bargain with parent cos. – Boston Herald

A decision yesterday by the National Labor Relations Board will make it easier for unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions for millions of fast-food workers.

The ruling is a boost for unions that have tried to organize workers at fast-food restaurants, which often are owned by big companies but run by franchisees. The companies have claimed their franchisees — not the companies themselves — control decisions about hiring, firing and paying employees.

But yesterday’s ruling could make it easier for unions to bargain directly with corporations like McDonald’s on behalf of workers, instead of dealing with a patchwork of franchisees.

“McDonald’s is the boss; That’s true by any standard,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director of the Fight for $15, a group that has lobbied for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union without fear of retaliation. “The company controls everything from the speed of the drive-through to the way workers fold customers’ bags. It’s common sense that McDonald’s should be held accountable for the rights of workers at its franchised stores.”

Bob Luz, CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, immediately blasted the NLRB’s decision, claiming that it will “stifle job growth.”

“Today’s decision is very problematic for the franchise-franchisee relationship,” Luz said in a statement. “Small business owners that invest in franchise ownership are creating thousands of jobs throughout Massachusetts. The NLRB continues to stray from its role of enforcing standards and instead is creating policy that stifles job growth. It is my hope this ruling will be overturned in court.”

Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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