Feds hold McDonald’s Corporation jointly responsible for employment conditions at franchisees

Poverty-wage business model under increasing pressure as workers demand change

The National Labor Relations Board today found that McDonald’s Corporation maintains such extensive control over operations at its franchisees that it functions as a joint employer and shares legal responsibility for employment conditions at franchised McDonald’s outlets. This confirms what workers have long known: in the fast food industry, the power is concentrated at the headquarters of the global franchise corporations whose poverty-wage business models bring them billions in profits.

Corporate franchise systems and their lobby group, the International Franchise Association, have long tried to have it both ways. The chains bank huge profits while trying to hide behind their franchisees, claiming that as franchisors, they lack control over wages & working conditions. Meanwhile, franchisees point in the opposite direction, arguing they’re not big corporations and can’t afford to pay better wages. Today’s announcement by the NLRB cuts off the games and the excuses, finding that both franchisor and franchisee share responsibility for employment conditions.

This move also shines new light on the absurd “discrimination” claims brought in the IFA’s lawsuit against the Seattle minimum wage law. As the NLRB found, franchise systems are not the same as smaller independent businesses, which is yet another reason why Seattle city government had every right to distinguish between franchise chains and truly independent local businesses with regard to the timing of our phased-in $15 minimum wage.

Now that McDonald’s has been found to share responsibility for working conditions — not just profits — it’s time for them to reckon with their responsibility, stop trying to undermine labor standards, and ensure everyone who works for these chains can support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy.

Note: The NLRB’s announcement of the decision is available at their website.


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington, sage@workingwa.org

Working Washington unites low-wage workers to fight for a fair economy where everyone can support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy. We launched the fast food strikes that sparked the fight for $15 in Seattle; we helped lead the successful campaign to pass $15 in SeaTac; and we work in coalition with unions, faith groups, and grassroots organizations to hold corporations & politicians accountable to community needs.