NLRB Allows Deadline to Pass, Will Not Challenge Employee Rights Poster Ruling

Last May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had overstepped its authority and infringed upon employers’ free speech rights when it issued a regulation requiring employers to put up a poster in workplaces with an unbalanced and biased overview of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The employer community prevailed in this suit, brought by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW). It also prevailed in a suit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied the Board’s petition to reconsider its decision that the NLRB lacked the authority to require the poster.

Last Friday, the deadline for the NLRB to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the DC Circuit’s decision passed, effectively ending the debate on the issue that sparked outrage from the employer community.

“The IFA is pleased that the NLRB has declined to challenge the appeals court’s decision to invalidate the employee rights poster requirement,” IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira said in a statement. “The NLRB was wise not to appeal a decision that swiftly and unambiguously rejected the Board’s aggressive overstepping of its authority in requiring an unbalanced workers’ rights notice that deprives employers of their free speech rights and misguides the workers it was designed to inform.”

Although the employer community is still at odds with the NLRB over other significant regulations and decisions, it appears that the threat of the employee rights poster has been neutralized. IFA remains committed in its advocacy for workforce policies that benefit both workers and employers, and stands prepared to protect the franchise business model from such ill-conceived and damaging labor regulations as those promulgated by the NLRB.

 

 

IFA Announces Partnership with New England Franchise Association

The International Franchise Association announced that the New England Franchise Association (NEFA) is now an affiliate of IFA’s Franchise Business Network (FBN). NEFA supports and promotes franchising within the six New England states by bringing franchise executives, franchisees and suppliers together to exchange ideas and build relationships. This partnership strengthens local business ties across the New England franchise community, in addition to expanding IFA’s FBN.

“We are pleased to welcome IFA’s new partnership with the NEFA. Together, we will be able to strengthen grassroots political involvement in the New England franchise community,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “Through our collective mission, we will also bring unique networking opportunities to local franchise businesses at a time of continued economic and public policy uncertainty.”

The FBN meetings are grassroots networking opportunities for the franchise community. These regional programs facilitate networking with others in the franchise community, meeting potential customers and making new business contacts. Bringing local business owners together on a regular basis to create opportunities and offer affordable educational programs, participants are able to take advantage of educational programs and legislative information made available to them at no charge, except for the cost of meals.

New England franchises contribute over $70 billion dollars annually, through 32,000 franchise establishments and over 750,000 jobs. “Working with the IFA presents the opportunity to broaden franchise relationships in New England and surrounding areas,” said NEFA President, Murray Vetstein. “IFA’s FBN hosts an extensive network of franchise industry leaders. Through our partnership we will foster communication, learning and best practices by growing franchise relationships.”

For more information on IFA’s FBN, please click here.

Prominent Economists’ Address the Reality of Raising Minimum Wage

Several prominent economists have recently expressed their concerns surrounding the latest union-backed protests to raise the minimum wage. In his Op-Ed published on December 4, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former Chief Economist of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, addressed the recent discussion surrounding minimum wage. Holtz-Eakin argued that raising the minimum wage will further slow the nation’s economic recovery, prevent job creation and ultimately harm those who continue to struggle.

According to Holtz-Eakin, raising the minimum wage will perversely affect the unemployed and low-skilled workers, broadening barriers and further stifling job growth. “Great distress and good intentions, however, are not the same as sensible policy.” he wrote.

He goes on to explain that, “80 percent of minimum wage workers are not actually in poverty, increasing the federal minimum wage to $10, as some have proposed, wouldn’t benefit 99 percent of the people in poverty.” Holtz-Eakin’s position on economic recovery is not destroying jobs but rather creating them, and “imposing a $5 to $15 billion price tag on small and new businesses that dominate minimum-wage job creation would simply get in the way”

On December 5, protesters led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) picketed several quick service franchise restaurants throughout the country while advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. These union-driven, minimum-wage protests disregard that the federal minimum wage was made for entry-level, low-skilled positions. For franchise small business owners, increasing the minimum wage would substantially decrease bottom line. With lower earnings, businesses would be less able to hire new employees and be forced to reduce training and management opportunities for existing ones.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and former Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, also voiced her opposition to raising the minimum wage in her Op-Ed entitled Make It Easier to Create Jobs, “Rather than raising the minimum wage, Congress and the president need to make it easier for firms to create jobs so labor would be in greater demand and workers would have more ways to move up.”

Increasing the cost of labor in the current economy will result in higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and ultimately loss of entry-level jobs. As Holtz-Eakin illustrates, a better way to help people, especially those in need, “is to improve the economy and the job market, and empower workers with the skills they need for better jobs.”

 

IFA Responds to Union-Backed Protests at Quick Service Franchise Restaurants

 

Protesters led by the Service Employees International Union picketed several quick service franchise restaurants throughout the country while advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The protesters demanded that the hourly wage floor, currently set at $7.25, be raised to $15 an hour. “Arbitrarily increasing the cost of labor in the current economy and on top of the costs already being levied on franchise owners by Obamacare’s employer mandate and recent tax increases will result in higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately lost entry-level jobs,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira in a statement responding to the protests.

The IFA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also released research that highlights the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage, including fewer jobs, reduced hours for workers and slower economic growth. Moreover, the research highlights that employers will make these and similar personnel decisions that will negatively impact workers commensurate with the size of the increase in the minimum wage, whether to a “living wage” of $15 an hour or more, and even to a lesser increase to $9 an hour. Read more

Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Judiciary Committee

On Wednesday, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. The bill, introduced by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) with bipartisan support, would enable the victims of unscrupulous patent lawsuits to challenge low-quality business method patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office rather than the federal court system. This measure, if passed, will also provide relief to small and large businesses alike who face the ever increasing problem of abusive patent litigation that needlessly costs tens of billions of dollars every year.

Chairman Goodlatte expressed his support for the bill in a statement released by the Committee. “The Innovation Act contains needed reforms to address the issues that businesses of all sizes and industries face from troll-type behavior, while keeping in mind several key principles, including targeting abusive behavior rather than specific entities, preserving valid patent enforcement tools, preserving patent property rights, promoting invention by independents and small businesses, and strengthening the overall patent system,”  he said.

Challenging these low-quality patents administratively allows the targets of abuse to defend themselves more quickly and without the need for costly litigation. The law would also allow prevailing parties in frivolous patent lawsuits to more easily recover legal fees.

Targeting abusive patent litigation, increasing transparency, providing small business education and greater clarity will be a significant step in preventing the far-reaching stranglehold that these lawsuits can place on both businesses and innovation.

“H.R. 3309 goes a long way in preventing frivolous patent lawsuits, which stifle innovation and affect virtually every business sector in America.” said Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

IFA strongly supports the Innovation Act, and has released a letter asking congressional leaders to help protect franchise small businesses by protecting their brands from patent abuse. For more information on the problems presented by patent trolls, please see this article in The Hill. To view the House Judiciary Committee’s Press Release on the hearing, please click here.

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