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Witnesses Warn: NLRB Assault on Franchise Businesses Will Destroy Jobs

The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a hearing to examine efforts by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rewrite the existing standard for determining joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. During the hearing, members listened as small business owners and other witnesses described how this radical effort would destroy the franchise model and American jobs. 

“Each day more than eight million Americans go to work at our nation’s 757,000 franchise businesses,” said Rep. Roe. “The franchise model has encouraged entrepreneurship, the growth of small businesses, and job creation …Yet today we are discussing an effort that will force small businesses to close their doors, or at the very least, discourage new small businesses from being created. Workers will once again be on the losing end of this Big Labor bailout, and at a time they can least afford it.” In July, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin issued an unprecedented decision that determined McDonald’s Inc. and certain franchisees were joint employers. Griffin has also urged the board to overturn decades of precedent in favor of a far more expansive joint employer standard. 

Labor law expert Todd Duffield explained the implications of this effort, “The [traditional] test is clear, it makes sense, and it’s worked for over 30 years … Congress should understand that these are not small, technical legal changes to labor law. The consequences of changing the board’s current joint employer standard threatens established business relationships and will cause significant economic upheaval.”

Those concerns were echoed by men and women engaged in the franchise business. Catherine Monson, chief executive officer of FASTSIGNS International, warned of the harmful impact that would be inflicted on employers and employees alike. “Such a rule change could completely upend the franchise model and have devastating consequences for franchising as an economic force in the United States … [I]ndividual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own business, franchisors would be denied the opportunity to expand their business, and millions of jobs will be lost.”

Clint Ehlers, a FASTSIGNS franchisee, shared these concerns: “If franchise owners have less independence and control, they can also expect lower profits. If profits are lower, there will be less demand from entrepreneurs to start franchised businesses … A revised joint employer standard will result in fewer new franchised businesses, at a time when our economy is thirsty for growth and expansion.”

Small-business owner and franchisee Jagruti Panwala added, “Mr. Chairman, I am no intermediary. I am a business owner and job-creator … I strongly urge this committee, and the National Labor Relations Board, to consider the tremendously adverse impacts on franchisees and workers.”

“The American people deserve to know what the federal government is up to and how it will affect their families,” concluded Rep. Roe. “Today’s hearing has helped shine a light on those consequences and I hope encouraged the NLRB to change course.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visitwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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