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McDonald's Could Soon Be Accountable for All of Its Employees

A new ruling could lead to sweeping changes in labor relations across the country.

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Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Are McDonald's franchise employees also the employees of the McDonald's corporation? Last week the National Labor Relations Board said yes, finding that McDonald's is a joint employer of restaurant workers hired at the fast food giant's franchises. According to The Fiscal Times, the controversial ruling could lead to sweeping changes in labor relations across the country.

Though the case centers around a Teamsters Union in California, its ruling could affect companies like McDonald's where franchisees hire employees on the company's behalf. If the law passes, workers (including temporary employees, contract workers, and full-time or part-time employees) hired by a separate company owner of any kind — be it a Teamsters Union contractor or a fast food franchiser — would still be considered employees of the parent company, and be entitled to the same benefits. Those benefits include mandates in pay rate and paid sick days, as well as the ability to unionize and negotiate as a group. McDonald's has appealed the ruling; the case could go to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, McDonald's is facing international criticism. The Guardian reports that Brazil's senate human rights committee will hold a hearing today over allegations that the company evades taxes, practices unfair competition, and violates franchise laws. Workers, trade unionists, and politicians from five continents are expected to testify. If the company is found guilty it could face fines of up to $342 million. "McDonald's is one of the biggest employers in Brazil, but it also has one of the worst records on workers rights," says Moacyr Roberto Tesch Auersvald of the Nova Central trade union.

McDonald's has fallen on some hard times, shuttering an unprecedented number of restaurants this year and cutting corporate jobs. Franchisees are feeling the pressure too. A recent survey found that McDonald's franchisees feel "doomed." Will its recent stock surge continue? Or will McDonald's finally have to face the music?

Video: Five Reasons McDonald's Could Be on the Brink of Failure


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