09.23.15

Alexander: Labor Department Changing Workplace Safety Laws to “Destroy the American Dream for Owners of the Nation’s 780,000 Franchise Locations”

Agency charged with maintaining workplace safety is training investigators instead to raise questions about joint employment among franchises

Since when did OSHA get in the business of trying to figure out if a franchisee and franchisor are joint employers or not?  Why does OSHA care about that? Why isn’t OSHA interested in health and safety?”

– Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 23 – The chairman of the Senate labor committee today said the federal agency in charge of enforcing workplace safety may be trying to change workplace safety laws to “destroy the American Dream for owners of the nation’s 780,000 franchise locations.”

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today questioned why the Department of Labor is instructing investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)—which is in charge of workplace safety—to turn their attention from workplace safety to instead ask questions to determine whether a franchisee and franchisor are joint employers.

Alexander raised the question today at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on regulatory affairs. He noted that on August 27 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned three decades of labor policies to create a new standard for a “joint employer” that says merely “indirect control” or even the potential to control working conditions will now make two separate employers joint employers.

“The problem with that for 780,000 franchises across the country is that it encourages McDonald’s to own all their own stores in all the small towns in America and the big towns too. You’ll have fewer franchise opportunities, fewer contractors, because the big boys and girls don’t want to run the risk of delegating all that to a franchisee.”

Alexander said that one day before the NLRB issued its decision, Politico reported that OSHA officials are asking regional directors to use the same new standard for joint employment when looking at violations at franchises.

“It looks like a coordinated effort to change the law to me,” Alexander said today to a witness from the Department of Labor.

“If you’re going to change the OSHA law, which goes back to 1970, to say that instead of looking at health and safety, you suddenly want to have your investigators looking at a test for whether a franchisee and a franchisor are joint employers, don’t you think that ought to be a change in the law that Congress makes or at least a rule or a regulation?”

He added: “Since when did OSHA get in the business of trying to figure out if a franchisee and franchisor are joint employers or not?  Why does OSHA care about that? Why isn’t OSHA interested in health and safety?”

“I’d like to do a lot of follow up on the joint-employer rule because I think it’s the biggest attack on the opportunity for small businessmen and women in this country to make their way into the middle class that we’ve seen in a long, long time. And to have OSHA perhaps through guidance join in with the NLRB is just more of a threat to hundreds of thousands of franchisees and millions of contractors across the country.”

###

Press Contact

Contact:

Margaret Atkinson / Jim Jeffries (Alexander): 202-224-2465