WASHINGTON, D.C. | September 13, 2017
The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), and the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), today
held a joint legislative hearing to examine H.R.
3441, the Save
Local Business Act.
“To most Americans, the question over who their employer is
seems to be an obvious answer. It’s the person who hired them, the one who
signs their paycheck,” Chairman Byrne said. “As a former labor attorney, I can
tell you it used to be very clear in legal terms how you become someone’s
employer. But that’s no longer the case since the National Labor Relations
Board (NLRB) stepped in.”
“It’s time to settle once and for all what constitutes a
joint employer — not through arbitrary and misguided NLRB decisions and rulings
by activist judges — but through legislation," Chairman Walberg
Members heard from Tamra Kennedy, a business owner who
started out as a secretary for a local Taco John’s and went on to own several
of her own restaurants. Kennedy expressed
her concern that the rule may rob her of the success and independence she
worked so hard to achieve.
“After two years operating under the expanded joint employer
standard, the impact on my business is clear: joint employer means I must pay
more to run my business, and earn less in return, all while worrying if the
unclear joint employer liability rule will continue to erode my autonomy to run
my business,” Kennedy said.
“I may lose my freedom to make decisions for my own
business, and eventually, my entire business,” she continued. “When you’ve
worked your way up from the bottom like I have, you don’t like to see anyone
knock you back down. It’s time we clear up the confusion of joint employer for
local business owners and all of those depending on us, and I am confident that
the Save Local Business Act does just that.”
Granger MacDonald, a second-generation home builder from
Kerrville, TX, explained the importance of contracting in his industry, and how
the joint employer scheme limits the ability to contract with other companies.
“Without [contractors], my company and many other
family-owned home building firms like it would simply cease to be viable
operations,” MacDonald said. But “simply by applying responsible everyday
business practices, we could still be held accountable for the labor and
employment practices of third-party vendors, suppliers, and contractors over
whom we have no direct control.”
MacDonald added that the joint employer threat to
contracting undermines the housing market recovery.
“Congress should consider policies that support a continued
housing recovery, starting with undoing the harmful precedent set by the NLRB’s
expanded joint employer doctrine and other policies that reduce labor market
flexibility,” he said.
Employment law expert Zachary Fasman described Browning-Ferris
as “nothing short of a disaster” and said “Congress can and should resolve this
quagmire by enacting H.R. 3441.”
He also disputed claims made by critics,
saying, “This bill would not deny any employee the right to join and form a
union or to bargain with his or her employer. It would merely establish that
the proper employer for bargaining is the employer that actually sets the terms
and conditions of employment in the workplace, and not some affiliated entity
which has a commercial relationship with the employer.”
To learn more about H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business
Act, click here.
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