Encouraging bipartisan support and the pursuit of positive change for small businesses.
by PETER CLERKIN
These days, it seems like politicians cannot agree about anything. That’s because it’s convenient for the media to use a gridlock narrative as shorthand for the contrarian and obstinate behavior that defines how our elected representatives address a few big issues. However, a different, more nuanced picture emerges when one takes a closer look at the actual lawmaking process – the pursuit of positive change. That’s why Today’s Hotelier is launching a new feature, Common Ground, which will profile two members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
In this inaugural feature, we look at two members of Congress who came together to support the Save Local Business Act, a bill that seeks to bring clarity and stability to the franchise business model by creating a statutory definition of the joint employer standard.
The issue: Joint Employer
In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a ruling in the Browning-Ferris dispute that upended the historical joint employer definition and blurred the lines of control of employees between a franchisor and franchisee. This caused uncertainty, and franchisors took a step back from the market because of the prospect of assuming responsibility for a franchisee’s employees. The NLRB reversed this decision in 2017 and returned to the historical joint employer definition that relies on whether an entity directly controls employees. While the move was welcomed by businesses, the fact that an unelected board could arbitrarily change the definition remained unsettling. Without a statutory definition, interpretation can be left up to various courts as they hear employment lawsuits.
In July 2017, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) introduced H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was among its 123 cosponsors. The bill creates a statutory definition of joint employer, which means that any future administration that wanted to make a change would have to request congressional action. This would prevent arbitrary changes to the definition that hurt businesses and sow uncertainty in the franchise industry. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support but currently lacks a sponsor in the Senate.
“Federal labor policies should be focused on benefiting workers and helping small businesses grow instead of creating barriers that limit opportunity. Also important, Congress – not unelected federal bureaucrats – should set our nation’s labor policies through statute instead of executive fiat. Under this bipartisan legislation, workers, and the businesses they work for, will be given much needed clarity and certainty. I am especially pleased our legislation has earned support from both sides of the aisle, and I am committed to continuing to build momentum as the bill moves through the legislative process.”
“Owning and maintaining a small business has been part of the American dream for generations. We must ensure that our small businesses and franchises receive fair treatment from the government, and not confusion and arbitrary regulations that harm them. I have heard from small business owners throughout my district and the country, and it is clear that the NLRB’s joint employer decision was a major threat to the life of the franchise industry and the dream of business ownership for millions of Americans. The Save Local Business Act will provide our nation’s small and franchise businesses the certainty necessary to grow and invest in the future. I encourage my colleagues from both parties to support local businesses by supporting this legislation and restore the traditional joint employer standard as the law of the land.” ■
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