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Franchise owners wary of pending labor board decision

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 16. 2014 9:07PM
Steve Duprey, left, with U.S. Rep.-elect Frank Guinta, speaks about the potential impact of a National Labor Relations Board decision could have on local franchise owners. Duprey is a franchise owner of four hotels in Concord. (DAN TUOHY/Union Leader)

AUBURN — A labor board’s pending decision could impact an array of local franchises in New Hampshire, according to business people who asked U.S. Rep.-elect Frank Guinta for support Tuesday.

Debra Desrosiers, co-owner of the Visiting Angels in Auburn, which provides in-home eldercare services, said that a forthcoming decision by the National Labor Relations Board involves the prospect of McDonald’s Corp. being treated as a “joint employer” in connection with labor complaints.

That would significantly alter the franchisor to franchisee relationship, she told Guinta.

The International Franchise Association says redefining franchisors as joint employers is an absurd interpretation.

The association said that the NLRB’s legal opinion in the McDonald’s case last summer is flawed and at odds with established precedent, in part because franchisees establish their own employment practices and policies.

“Should the National Labor Relations Board issue regulations that would change the current relationship we have with our employees, we could lose our business, our employees could lose their jobs, and our clients could lose the care they need,” according to Desrosiers.

Steve Duprey, a franchise owner of four hotels in Concord, said the labor relations board would siphon away a local business owner’s ability to control their business and labor costs. He said that this issue is not anti-union.

“It would fundamentally alter how we do business,” said Duprey, who also met with Guinta at Visiting Angels in Auburn.

Guinta said he would be paying close attention to the NLRB decision. He said the decision could come in January.

“It certainly would have a negative impact,” he said. “It really would take away the authority of the small business owner here in the state of New Hampshire to run their business.”

In New Hampshire, there are more than 3,700 independently owned franchise locations which employ nearly 40,000 and have an estimated economic output of $3.6 billion, according to the International Franchise Association.

It is an important issue for a state like New Hampshire, which as a large tourism industry, according to Guinta.“We should continue to allow small business owners the autonomy to run their own businesses,” he said.

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