It was concerning that in the July jobs report one of the counties in the First Congressional district, Hancock County, had the highest unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee at 12.9 percent. While the national unemployment rate hovers around 5.3 percent, unemployment in 53 Tennessee counties rose in July. This is unacceptable, and more must be done to ensure hardworking Tennesseans have the opportunity to find good-paying jobs.
Too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and are worried about the future of their family. During these tough times, President Obama should focus on empowering job creators and promoting policies that allow for economic growth, particularly with regard to franchise businesses. More than 8 million Americans are employed by more than 750,000 franchise businesses across the country.
Just last week, the activist National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued their ruling on what they interpret to be a joint employer. This decision discourages small business entrepreneurship, essentially allowing labor unions to bypass franchisees who own their businesses and negotiate directly with corporate offices. The Wall Street Journal underscored that this new joint employer standard “radically rewrites U.S. labor law and upends thousands of business relationships.”
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised the president’s NLRB has ruled to take power away from franchisees; President Obama himself said in 2012 that small business owners didn’t build their businesses. Unfortunately, this case is just the latest example of President Obama’s NLRB siding with union bosses over workers and business owners despite warnings that the board’s radical policies will harm economic growth.
On August 25 and 27, I traveled to Mobile, Alabama, and to Savannah, Georgia, where I chaired subcommittee field hearings to learn first-hand from local franchise owners and operators what the NLRB’s change to the definition of joint employer would mean. What we heard was that this ruling will mean less opportunity for individuals to pursue the American Dream by building franchised businesses in their communities. One franchisor in Mobile, Air Force veteran Colonel Steve Carey, told the committee that he probably wouldn’t be in business today had this ruling been in place seven years ago when he started his business. This is just one example of many small business owners who will be negatively impacted by this ruling.
The franchise model has allowed countless Americans to pursue entrepreneurship, create jobs and grow our economy. I am very concerned the expanded definition of a joint employer could take control of small businesses out of the hands of their owners, possibly discouraging new small businesses from being created. This is the last thing we need to add to an already struggling economy, and I will continue to fight to protect American workers and small businesses from this gross overreach.
Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.