National / International News

NLRB says McDonald's can be considered joint-employer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 06:00

McDonald’s could be held liable for wage-and-hour violations, and for obstructing union organizing, at its thousands of franchise restaurants across the country.

The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel has ruled that McDonald’s can be considered a "joint-employer" along with its franchise owners in labor-law complaints, because the parent company plays a significant role in employment practices for fast-food workers at the franchisee-operated stores, which constitute 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants.

If upheld in subsequent NLRB proceedings (and further legal appeals, should there be any, by McDonald’s and its franchisees), the ruling could mean McDonald’s is legally responsible when franchise owners shortchange workers or lay them off after they protest for higher wages. The theory is that McDonald’s in part determines wage levels, work rules and scheduling patterns via the contracts it sets with franchisees, as well as the labor-management software and guidance it provides to maximize store-profitability.

Complaints about worker treatment in the ongoing campaign for $15-an-hour pay at fast-food restaurants, and for union representation, have been brought by the advocacy group Fast Food Forward, which is supported by the Service Employees International Union.

There are also class-action lawsuits being pursued in three states (California, New York and Michigan) over alleged violations by McDonald’s and its franchise owners. A lawyer for the class-action plaintiffs in California, Michael Rubin at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco, said the NLRB ruling would strengthen those cases, which are also based on ‘joint-employer’ claims.

Meanwhile, a federal court in California has held Wal-Mart to be a joint-employer of temporary warehouse workers in a class-action lawsuit based on a similar argument — that Wal-Mart controls the employment conditions in the supply chain in which subcontractors and temporary staffing agencies operate.

Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project says the NLRB and some courts are acknowledging the increasing use of contingent and temporary workers in the corporate ecosystem that many large corporations create around them.

These recent interpretations of U.S. labor law, says Owens, may be “catching up with how the economy is changing. So many working people are no longer employed by the company that appears to be the main employer. There’s more than one employer really calling the shots.”

McDonald’s has vowed to fight the NLRB ruling, saying its franchisees set wages and working conditions. A statement from the company says the decision "goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States."

Groups representing restaurant owners and franchisees have also blasted the decision, saying it jeopardizes the franchising system.

But former Penn State labor-law professor Ellen Dannin, author of "Taking Back the Workers’ Law," isn’t so sure.

“People seemed a little over the top” in their reactions to the NLRB general counsel’s determination, she said. “Just because the general counsel has issued a complaint doesn’t necessarily lead to the kinds of problems that they’re worried about.”

Dannin also expressed skepticism that the ruling, linking McDonald’s more directly to labor relationships and conditions at its franchises, will necessarily make union organizing against chains like McDonald’s any easier. 

We have a tag for "Sharknado" stories

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 06:00

It's hard to imagine where the two circles of "Marketplace coverage" and "Sharknado" intersect on a venn diagram. But overlap they do, and in suprisingly relevant ways.

That's because the SyFy network's made-for-tv movie is something of a phenomenon from a financial perspective. With a relatively small budget — around $1-2 million — it grew from a disappointing first airing to internet sensation to big screen flick

"Everybody asks, you know, why did this happen?" says director Anthony C. Ferrante. "You can't ask why; it's 'Sharknado.' It's a movie about sharks and a tornado, and it just hit everybody's sweet spot for whatever reason this summer."

It didn't hit a sweet spot for actor Ian Ziering initially. That is, until health insurance came into play.

Ziering was reluctant to star in the original film, but when his wife urged him to consider the union health insurance he would be eligible for by doing the movie, he reconsidered.

With a pregnant wife, Ziering put down his reservations about the cheesy script, and picked up a shark chainsaw.

So it turns out Sharknado isn't just a story about a tornado dropping sharks from the sky.

It's about financial success, crowdsourced marketing and health care. Go figure.

By the way, Sharknado 2 premieres Wednesday.

Fastest growth in Spain since 2007

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:46
Spain's economy is growing at its fastest quarterly rate since the end of 2007, but it is also facing a deflation threat.

New banker rules 'could hurt London'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:39
Bank of England plans to penalise badly-performing bankers could put London at a disadvantage as a financial centre, says banking industry body BBA.

Guinea concert stampede 'kills 34'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:38
At least 34 people have reportedly died in a stampede in Guinea, during a concert marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Savile charity to challenge payouts

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:33
A charity set up by Jimmy Savile is challenging any payouts of compensation to victims of the sex attacker, victims' lawyers say.

Tablet screens to correct sight loss

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:32
US engineers have developed a prototype tablet display that compensates for an individuals' vision problems.

PM pledges £3m in extra aid for Gaza

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:12
An additional £3m in UK aid is to be made available to help the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Prime Minister David Cameron says.

Kallis retires from internationals

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:11
South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis announces his retirement from all international cricket at the age of 38.

U.S. Economy Rebounds In Spring With GDP Expanding At 4 Percent Rate

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:03

The news from the Commerce Department comes after the economy shrank at a 2.1 percent rate in the first quarter of the year. The numbers raise hope for continued growth in the second half of 2014.

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Calls for all-party talks to resume

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 05:02
The new Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says he wants to see a resumption of all-party talks in Northern Ireland in September.

Somali 'killed for not wearing veil'

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:58
Militant Islamists in Somalia have shot dead a Muslim woman for refusing to wear a veil, her relatives say.

VIDEO: UK to allow driverless cars on roads

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:56
The UK government will shortly outline measures to permit driverless cars to use public roads by next year.

HSBC closes some Muslims' accounts

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:50
HSBC bank writes to Finsbury Park Mosque and other Muslim organisations around the UK giving them notice their accounts will be closed.

VIDEO: Ukraine forces tighten grip on Donetsk

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:49
Heavy fighting around Donetsk has seen government forces make strategic advances in their attempt to wrest control of the area from pro-Russian separatists.

Police investigated after fraud case

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:46
The chief constable of Gwent Police and other senior officers are under investigation following the acquittal of two men in a fraud case.

VIDEO: Cable 'felt safe' in driverless car

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:28
Driverless cars are set to take to the roads in the UK from next January, they will guided by a system of sensors and cameras.

Life for road rage killer trucker

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:22
A lorry driver is jailed for life for using his 17-tonne truck to murder another motorist by deliberately driving over him.

England records rise in dementia

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:21
The number of people in England diagnosed with dementia rises by 62% over seven years.

Church attack treated as hate crime

BBC - Wed, 2014-07-30 04:04
Police say they are treating an attack on a Catholic church in County Tyrone as a hate crime.
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