The Coalition to Save Local Businesses

February 10, 2015

Being a local business franchise owner is hard work. You need to be attentive to brand standards for quality products or services, whether you’re making a Papa John’s pizza or a preparing a clean room at Comfort Inn. But most of your energy is devoted to managing the staff, overseeing the facilities and making sure your customers come back. Even if you have a talent for organization and management, there are things beyond your control: An employee calls in sick, a vendor fails to come through or a piece of equipment breaks. So why are franchise owners taking time away from their businesses to become part of this coalition? Because even with all the hard work, there is nothing as satisfying as running your own business. And the franchise model that has made our livelihoods possible is under attack.

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board, an independent, unelected federal agency, took steps to change the definition of joint employer. To our customers, this probably doesn’t mean much, nor should it. But as all franchise owners understand, it gets to the heart of the franchise model. In that model, a corporation provides a brand, a logo, marketing and other tools related to running the business.  However, when it comes to the countless daily decisions about wages, hours, maintenance and the like, the franchise owner is truly an independent business person. As such, you make decisions based on your knowledge of local market conditions.

By making individual local franchise owners and their brand companies the joint employers, the NLRB would rob the over 780,000 small business owners of the ability to run their businesses successfully and put corporate offices in the driver’s seat at local Main Street businesses. This could result in local businesses closing. Comingling the authority and responsibility of hundreds or even thousands of local franchise owners with their corporate brand providers is bad for both – and ultimately for our employees and customers.

The essence of franchising, which has been incredibly successful, is at risk.  So we’re coming together to educate our customers, public officials and news media on what’s at stake and why. The public has long enjoyed the familiar names, reliable and competitively priced food, auto parts and professional services franchises provide. And that’s good. But we hope this coalition will help more and more people understand that franchising, by taking away a little of the risk of starting and running a business, has allowed millions of entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and contributed to the economic life and vitality of communities across the country.

If you dismantle the long-standing definition of employer, you dismantle a piece of the American dream. It’s just that simple.

The goal of the Coalition to Save Local Businesses is to educate public officials – especially Members of Congress and the administration – about the importance of permanently codifying the decades long common law and commonly practiced definition of joint employer.