The “join employer” ruling by the National Labor Relations Board in 2015 set a much more realistic standard for holding corporations responsible for the labor practices of their franchises. It meant that, for example, you could hold McDonald’s responsible for wage theft and labor law violations in its stores, rather than allowing them to hide behind the legal fiction that all of that was the responsibility of the franchisees rather than the parent company. The ruling was a ray of sunshine for groups that wanted to improve the lives of fast food workers on a national scale, rather than being forced into an endless series of store-by-store battles.
And now, the NLRB has rolled it all back. The progress is gone. We’re back where we were before. This was one of the explicit goals of the Trump administration: to systematically reverse every progressive NLRB ruling that happened during the Obama years. We can look forward to much more of this to come. (The clock is ticking for your unions, grad students.) As if the playing field in America was not already tilted in favor of corporations enough; as if we are not in the midst of a four decade long rise in economic inequality; as if union membership has not been declining for two generations; now we have these fucking assholes here to make every last procedure harder for workers.