August 14, 2015
By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
The National Labor Relations Board is expected to rule that a company that gets most of its workers through a staffing agency is legally their “joint employer”—and therefore responsible for their wages and conditions. The Teamsters, who represent workers at a recycling plant in California owned by Browning-Ferris Industries of Houston, are appealing a ruling by a regional NLRB office that the company was not required to bargain with them collectively because they were hired through a temp agency in Phoenix.
The board’s decision could also set a precedent for a pending case involving whether McDonald’s should be considered responsible for workers at franchises. “It has the potential to change the entire way businesses operate in this country,” said Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. Labor advocates say the current system enables both companies and staffing agencies to evade responsibility for pay and conditions. “When companies are pointing fingers at each other, the workers feel like they have no recourse,” said Doug Bloch, a California Teamsters official. “The understanding used to be, ‘If you work for me, I will take care of you.’ Now, it has changed so you don’t even know who you work for, and if something happens, ‘Sorry.’” Read more