Government Siding with Workers Seeking to Unionize Local McDonald’s Locations
In December of 2014, an employee was fired from a McDonald’s restaurant in Little Rock, allegedly because he was trying to organize the franchise’s employees into a union. This type of firing is generally not allowed under federal law. Many other actions aimed at preventing employees from organizing are also prohibited. The National Labor Relations Board has stepped in on behalf of the workers at this franchise and other location with the same owner, seeking to have the employee rehired and to stop the franchise owners from taking actions which would prevent union organization.
The two McDonald’s locations in question are franchises run by The Retzer Group Inc., which owns 47 such businesses in three states. One of these restaurants was the site of a protest against low wages and poor treatment in September of 2014, during which 11 people were arrested. These protests were part of a larger, nationwide campaign seeking a $15/hr. wage for fast food workers.
The Retzer Group, Inc. is accused of threatening termination of any employees who discussed unions or organizing. Allegedly, employees were prevented from gathering outside during breaks or from participating in organizing activity that is protected under federal law.
On June 19, 2015, M. Kathleen McKinney sought an injunction against the owners of the franchise. The injunction was temporarily granted. McKinney is the director of the National Labor Relations Board’s Region 15 (NLRB), which includes Arkansas. The NLRB is tasked with protecting the rights of employees to organize and preventing unfair labor practices. The temporary injunction, which was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller on June 24th and extended on July 6th, prohibits interference with employees as they attempt to organize. Workers may not be fired for discussing unionization.
Judge Brian Miller is awaiting testimony from the employer. Labor lawyers on both sides will argue as to whether the temporary injunction should be made permanent. At issue will also be the fate of Kevin “Jay” Harris, the terminated employee. Until then, the employer will be required to post notices informing employees of their rights and will be forbidden from threatening employees who discuss unions.
If you believe your own rights have been violated at work, the law firm of James, Carter & Priebe, LLP may be able to help. Our firm serves Northwest Arkansas as well as the Little Rock area. Contact us online or call us today at 866.716.3242 to learn more.