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Sen V20#30-California’s Continuing Fast-Food Attack

Source: Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Unions Try to Add

Their Control to State Fast-Food Empire

By now, the beef industry is well aware of California’s assumption of the imperial right via initiative to tell livestock owners how they will raise livestock. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t stop California, at least this time around.

The California legislature then passed a bill giving control over fast-food restaurants -- a huge part of the market for beef in the biggest market -- to state government. Incensed fast-food franchisees then successfully fielded an initiative for the fall 2024 election to overturn that law.

In retaliation for the restaurant owners having the temerity to fight back against state government, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who pushed the assembly to pass the first bill, are now pushing a joint-employer bill. That bill would give the SEIU openings to sue the corporate fast-food parents for big money.

So, the state with the biggest consumer market keeps kowtowing to labor unions and state government, egged on by California’s liberal voters, to see if they can severely limit access to affordable food for California citizens.

Evidently, the goal is to make pork, eggs and veal as hard to get and expensive as they can without outlawing it. Then, go after fast-food that supplies all kinds of food at the best prices foodservice has to offer and make it scarcer and more expensive.

Of course, those are just the goals of the HSUS, that sponsored the Prop 12 initiative in the first place.

The well-off are already leaving California to escape taxes and oppressive government. Now, the less well-off and the poor could have fewer fast-food jobs or less inexpensive food to live on.

The SEIU is the union that has organized protests in front of fast-food restaurants like McDonalds for years now, trying to organize fast-food workers into their union. Incidentally, they have also targeted Walmart, another channel for beef nationwide. Unable to make any headway with fast-food workers most places, they have concentrated on leftist California voters and government as the place to get it done first and set a precedent. Already, other blue states are looking at similar laws.

The original fast-food law, the FAST Act, created a 10-member council appointed by the governor and legislature leaders with the authority to dictate wages, benefits and working conditions at most fast-food restaurants.

Of course, anyone with any business sense knows that turning over that kind of control to a state agency controlled by politicians would be a nightmare to operate, if possible at all.

So, the union made sure a provision was included in the law that specified that any restaurant that has a collective bargaining agreement and pays at least 30 percent more than the state minimum wage would be exempt from most of the council’s control. Kind of like a state-authorized, state-run protection racket. Join up and pay enough to “our guys” and we won’t harass your store with regulations and rules and inspectors.

A clever way to almost force unionization of the state’s fast-food workers without the hassle and expense of having to get authorization for or conduct messy union elections and allow employees to decide themselves by secret ballot vote. And how long until the 30 percent figure is raised? How many fast-food outlets would survive those kinds of conditions?

The problem with franchisees, for the union, is that many, though not all, are small businessmen working hard and long hours with mostly entry level employees -- hard to get these days -- without the deep pockets the unions want to bully and raid. So, the union wants to be able to get at the deep pockets of national chains to sue and harass for any labor or working condition complaints they can cook up. The idea is to make the parent corporation liable for any labor or working condition complaints they can cook up.

“Plaintiff attorneys could shake down corporate parents for alleged offenses,” a Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out. “Corporations would be compelled to impose more control over their franchisees and restrict franchise licenses,” (California’s Fast-food Punishment,” 06/13/23).

The NLRB has already made efforts to eliminate the franchise structure of business organization totally as a way to attack small business, especially fast-food restaurants. Most fast-food restaurants are owned by independent businessmen, under franchise arrangements with specific brands. They pay for the rights to the brand name, the food process and supply and marketing programs in return for following the brand’s rules and standards and paying a percentage of the revenue to the brand. That’s after usually paying a large franchise fee to secure the franchise rights in the first place, build the building and equip it to operate a restaurant.

While the FAST law gave over executive and operational management control to state government -- doesn’t that sound like Russia or China government control -- now the union is pushing a so-called “joint-employer” bill that would make the national chain jointly liable for anything the franchisee does, so they could sue the parent corporation.

The joint-employer bill would mean significant management control would be taken from operators. If they are going to be liable, brand headquarters are certain to make sure they have some protection in the form of more rules and control themselves over the franchisee’s business.

Believe it or not, the SEIU is actually claiming the joint-employer bill would help franchisees. Kind of like saying tying one of a boxer’s arms behind him and putting a patch over one eye would help him in a fight.

The joint-employer bill has passed the California Assembly and now goes to the Senate.

Will the joint-employer concept fly in other states like Prop 12 has spread to other states?

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