A worker sorts parcels in the outbound dock at an Amazon fulfillment center

A worker sorts parcels in the outbound dock at an Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, California on August 31, 2021.

(Photo: Watchara Phomicinda/MediaNews Group/The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images)

'A Big Deal': New NLRB Joint-Employer Rule Will Close Workers' Rights Loophole

The new rule "will help restore fairness to an economy rigged against workers," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Workers' rights advocates celebrated Thursday as the National Labor Relations Board finalized a rule establishing how companies can qualify as "joint employers"—a classification that makes firms responsible for workers' wages.

The board announced that, effective in 60 days, two or more entities can be considered joint employers of a group of employees if they both have employment relationship with the workers and help to determine their terms and condition of employment.

Under former Republican President Donald Trump, the NLRB narrowed the joint-employer standard, requiring joint employers to "possess and exercise substantial direct and immediate control" over at least one aspect of the workers' employment.

That standard, said the National Employment Law Project (NELP) at the time, would allow employers to "use temp agencies and subcontractors to try to duck responsibility for workplace violations and to squelch worker organizing and collective action for mutual aid and protection."

The new rule, said People's Parity Project co-founder Sejal Singh, would help anyone in the U.S. who has "ever technically 'worked' for a weird staffing agency or sketchy subcontractor instead of the company" that determined their pay and work responsibilities.

For those employees, said Singh, "it just got easier to organize a union."

Veteran union organizer Kraig Peck added that companies that rely on franchisees to operate their business, such as McDonald's, and corporations that hire certain workers through contracting companies, like Amazon, could now be required to negotiate with a union formed at a franchise or contractor if the NLRB determines they jointly employ the unionized workers.

"Giants like Amazon and McDonald's can't hide behind loopholes anymore," said labor rights media organization More Perfect Union.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an outspoken defender of labor rights, said the new standard will "help ensure corporations cannot avoid their responsibility to collectively bargain with their workers."

The final rule, said the senator, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, "will help restore fairness to an economy rigged against workers."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.