(Adds background on NLRB ruling)
By Robert Iafolla
Jan 22 A California waste management company has
launched a legal challenge to a new U.S. labor board standard
for "joint employment" that could make it easier for unions and
regulators to hold companies accountable for the practices of
staffing agencies, contractors and franchisees with which they
Browning-Ferris Industries, a subsidiary of Republic
Services Inc, this week sought review of the National
Labor Relations Board's decision on joint employment by a
federal appeals court in Washington.
The company "strongly believes that it has rights that
require vindication," Browning-Ferris' attorney Stuart Newman of
Seyfarth Shaw said of the petition, filed on Wednesday with the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Earlier this month a three-member panel of the NLRB
unanimously found that Browning-Ferris violated federal labor
law by refusing to negotiate with Teamsters Local 350, which
represents workers at the company's recycling facility in
Milpitas, California. The company had declared in September that
it would not deal with the union. It insisted it had no duty to
do so, in spite of an August ruling by the NLRB that it was a
joint employer of the recycling plant workers who were hired by
a staffing agency.
In that ruling, the NLRB had said an existing standard that
companies only qualify as "joint employers" of workers hired by
another business if they had "direct and immediate" control over
employment matters was outdated, and did not reflect the
realities of the 21st century work force.
The ruling said parent companies can be held liable for
labor violations committed by franchisees and contractors even
when they have only indirect or unexercised control over
The August ruling setting forth the new joint employment
standard sparked immediate and fervent protest from the business
community. Trade groups and Republican lawmakers have claimed
the change could upend the contracting and franchising models
that many companies depend on. Republicans in the U.S. House of
Representatives have introduced legislation to undo the new
Unions and others who support the change say the decision is
necessary to bring companies that indirectly control working
conditions to the bargaining table and to curb the use of
"permanent temps" who are paid less and do not get the same
benefits as ordinary employees.
Larry Daugherty, who heads the Teamsters affiliate trying to
negotiate with Browning-Ferris, said the company's appeal brings
the parties one step closer to the bargaining table.
(Reporting by Robert Iafolla in Washington; Editing by Tom
Brown, Alexia Garamfalvi and Mary Milliken)