National Labor Relations Board ruling hurts businesses


By Tanner and Robin Halton from Statesman Journal

We are small business owners in Salem, employing about 14 people.

We focus most of our time on our employees and the quality of service we deliver to our 8,000 Planet Fitness members — not on federal labor policy coming out of Washington, D.C. There’s only so much time in the day for work, family and everything else we have to do.

Unfortunately, a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the case of Browning-Ferris Industries is a decision that will have sweeping ramifications for the small-business world. You won’t hear about it in the press, as the impact won’t be felt much by large corporations.

Where it will be felt is in small businesses across the state and country.

If you contract a company for janitorial, staffing or logistical services, etc., you’re most likely impacted. The NLRB’s ruling redefines the American workplace by stating that any business, large or small, that contracts with another businesses for specialized services, is now a “joint employer.”

The effect is that we are now liable for the employees of businesses we contract with, and equally troubling, those employees now effectively work for us, even though we didn’t choose the employees hired or set their salaries, schedules or benefits.

The ruling has such vast consequences that the NLRB can’t quantify the impact on America’s workplace, let alone the local costs to Oregon small businesses. The two dissenting members of the NLRB explained how far-reaching this decision is, writing that “user-supplier, lessor-lessee, parent-subsidiary, contractor-subcontractor, franchisor-franchisee, predecessor-successor, creditor-debtor and contractor-consumer” business relationships are now subject to joint employer status.

The board’s decision amounts to a flat-out rejection of our workplace — a workplace we and millions of small business owners across America signed up for when we mortgaged our homes, savings and future to start companies.

The effective result of this decision is that our employees no longer work for us. They will work for a web of employers who do business together. The ruling, contrary to what the vast majority of Americans want, ultimately makes small businesses incur the liability of big companies. With the stroke of a pen, the NLRB has yanked the rug right out from under our business model.

Policymakers should focus on ways to help create an environment that allows small businesses to thrive — spreading opportunities for people across this country and adding to our economy. The NLRB’s ruling does the opposite. It threatens small businesses in a way that shows a complete lack of understanding of how the American workplace functions.

We urge Congress to protect our communities and our families by supporting a bipartisan bill, H.R. 3459, that repeals the NLRB’s disastrous decision. We are also hopeful that Congressman Kurt Schrader, known for his balanced understanding of businesses, will co-sponsor the bill. We need both political parties to come together and give small businesses the stable environment we need to grow, thrive and create jobs here in Oregon.

Tanner and Robin Halton of Lake Oswego are co-owners of Planet Fitness.

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