Testimony by Hannah Halbert in opposition to HB 494, which would shield corporate franchise owners from bearing joint responsibility with their franchisees, even when those corporate owners discourage or prevent those franchisees from complying with minimum wage, overtime, health and safety, and other laws designed to protect workers.
State policy can also rig the system against workers. The Ohio legislature has barred local governments from improving working conditions, banned local hire ordinances that help set aside work for local residents, and passed tax cuts that favor the wealthiest Ohioans at the expense of our roads, schools and health care. But there are solutions. We can strengthen Ohio’s working people and create an economy that works for everyone by helping workers to speak up together, raising wages, and investing in communities instead of corporations.
State and federal policy makers can make sure all Ohio’s working people – not just the top 1 percent – can enjoy a decent life free from economic insecurity. Although this is by no means a definitive list, this report offers a new path forward with practical policy solutions that can be implemented today.
As of 2018, at least 18 states have enacted joint-employer shield laws specifically designed to protect one very wealthy special interest group: corporate franchisers. Corporate franchisers are the big companies—like McDonalds, or Marriott, or Carl’s Junior—that use the franchise business model, in which oftentimes small-business owners (the franchisees) pay for the rights to use the company’s trademarks, services, and products. These state joint-employer laws are intended to shield the corporate owners of the franchise from bearing joint responsibility with their franchisees for complying with minimum wage, overtime, health and safety, and other laws applicable to the employees who work at the franchisee’s stores. In simple terms, the joint-employer shield laws preclude applying the joint-employer legal doctrine to hold franchisers jointly responsible for violations of employee rights.
The District of Columbia can use its economic development efforts to stem the tide of the city’s rising income inequality, but it is failing to do so. Instead, the District’s economic development efforts—including the enormous Wharf project—often support creation of low-wage jobs with minimal benefits, a lost opportunity to reduce inequities. By not including requirements to create high-quality jobs, the District encourages developers to compete for projects and profits by aggressively cutting labor costs—at the expense of workers’ ability to live in the District and support their families.