Letter to the editor: From the charming downtown of Tarpon Springs to the award-winning beaches of St. Pete Beach, it’s no surprise that Pinellas County is one of the top tourist destinations along the Gulf Coast. With more than 15 million visitors each year that create more than $10 billion in economic impact, the tourism industry is the backbone of the region’s economy.
However, a 2015 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that expanded what it means to be a “joint employer” has these businesses in a state of confusion.
Part of what makes our tourism industry so successful is the ability of business owners to contract with companies outside their areas of expertise. For instance, if a restaurant’s dishwasher breaks, the owner will bring in a mechanic to ensure a speedy fix. Or a resort owner might hire a laundry service to wash all of its napkins, tablecloths, towels and sheets.
Previously, businesses were only joint employers if they exercised “direct” or “immediate” control over another company’s employees. But with the NLRB’s new standard, even “potential” or “indirect” control of an employee could entangle an owner in a labor-related complaint. Now, these mutually beneficial relationships could put a business owner at risk of a hefty lawsuit.
Luckily, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have banded together to provide clarity to our small businesses by introducing the Save Local Business Act (HR 3441). Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has always been a friend to the travel and tourism community in Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida. Hopefully, he will add his name to this commonsense legislation and help our community continue to thrive.
Keith Overton, president, TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach