This post is part of an ongoing of series on the fast food organizing movement. You can read all our Fast Food News here.
McDonald’s announced that it will be laying off 63 workers at its Illinois headquarters as part of a cost cutting strategy. According to CNBC, the cuts will begin in early February and are being framed as an attempt to cut nearly $100 million in labor costs that can then be used to improve marketing and engagement strategies. The cuts come on the heels of McDonald’s worst monthly sales decreases in the U.S. and Europe in over a decade.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the International Franchise Association (IFA) remains optimistic about franchise growth in 2015, even in the face of increased regulation and increased wages. According to the IFA, the industry is on pace to add 247,000 jobs in 2015, a 2.9% increase over 2014, a year which say 235,000 new jobs in the franchise industry. The bulk of these new jobs are expected to come in what the IFA terms “quick-service restaurants,” which account for 20% of all franchises and 38% of all franchise employees. Still, the IFA continues to stick with its view that the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to issue complaints against McDonald’s as a joint-employer could potentially lead to uncertainty within the industry and thus slow this anticipated growth in 2015.
The Associated Press reports that non-competition agreements in the fast food industry have come under increasing scrutiny since such clauses were found in Jimmy John’s contracts for low-wage workers this past fall. According to the AP, such clauses have been seen in myriad low-wage jobs across the country, from maids to nail stylists to agricultural workers, and has led to a call from Congressional Democrats for a full investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Labor. It remains unclear the extent of the issue, as there has been no accounting of how many workers are subject to such agreements, nor is there any information of any enforcement of such agreements. However, according to the AP, actual enforcement is not necessarily needed, as the mere threat of enforcement by an employer may be enough to coerce workers into staying at their current job and even into illegal working conditions.
In the wake of the Associated Press report, the Albany Times-Union penned an editorial calling for an end to the practice of non-compete agreements for rank-and-file employees. According to the Times-Union, such agreements disadvantage these low-wage workers who are severely limited in their mobility and skills, making it incredibly difficult for employees to find new employment outside of the non-compete. Ultimately, the Times-Union is supportive of further restrictions on this burgeoning practice, calling these agreements “fundamentally unfair” and counter to the goals of a free market system.