Democrats Oppose Republican Attempts to Dismantle Worker Protections
WASHINGTON – TODAY, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a joint subcommittee hearing on the so-called “Save Local Business Act” (H.R. 3441). Labor and employment laws have long held, where more than one employer controls terms and conditions of employment, an employee may hold multiple or joint employers accountable for violating wage and hour laws or refusing to collectively bargain. By creating a new, narrow definition of a “joint employer” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), H.R. 3441 dismantles legal protections workers have relied on for decades, creating chaos and uncertainty for workers.
“For decades, joint employment standards have ensured workers can hold employers accountable for violating wage and hour laws or refusing to collectively bargain. This bill represents a significant and dangerous break from that precedent that would undermine the rights of American workers,” said Workforce Protections Subcommittee Ranking Mark Takano (CA-41). “This legislation rewards companies that rent employees from staffing agencies instead of hiring them directly, and allows them to evade responsibility for upholding the rights of those employees, even though they profit from their work.”
H.R. 3441 also gives unscrupulous employers a guided roadmap for evading their obligations owed to workers under current law. An employer can simply outsource one of the bill’s listed terms of employment, such as determining work schedules, to another entity and evade all responsibilities to collectively bargain with workers or pay owed wages. Similarly, because a joint employer must exert control “directly, actually, and immediately” under the bill an employer can convey all employment directions through a third party without ever being considered a joint employer.
“This bill is simply an excuse for top corporations to remove any responsibility to their workers. They are subcontracting their consciences to put profits over people,” said Representative Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “This bill would leave countless hardworking Americans without a voice in their workplace at a time when Congress should be helping to lift up workers by raising wages and improving workplace conditions.”
The “Save Local Business Act” represents a blank check for powerful franchisors to dictate small franchisees’ employment practices, while at the same time leaving franchisees on the hook for any legal violations.
“The proposed narrow definition of ‘joint employer’ would have seriously negative impacts on workers and on small business owners.” said Mr. Michael Rubin, Partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP. “[H.R. 3441] would also leave small business owners in the untenable position of facing the risk of being held solely responsible for labor law compliance and collective bargaining even when they lack the authority or means to fulfill that legal responsibility. . . I am convinced that H.R. 3441 will [not] benefit local businesses.”
Put simply, H.R. 3441 is a solution in search of a problem. Instead of systematically undermining workers’ right, Committee Democrats are focused on raising the minimum wage, ensuring workers have safe workplaces, and access to schedules that work.
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