As Rep. John Kline, Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), spends time campaigning at the great annual get-together, millions of working stiffs hump at single digit wages or as independent contractors without the protections traditionally afforded in the boss/grunt accord.
That Uber driver who picked you up in Dinkytown doesn't work for the parent company. He's a contractor. The nice crew at the McDonald's drive-thru in Bloomington aren't employed by the Hamburglar. They're often on the payroll of a local franchise owner.
Such details can insulate corporations from many of the problems associated with the pesky problem that is labor.
That's now changing, but not if Kline (R-Burnsville) can help it.
Bucking 30 years of precedent, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in August that the one-rung-removed-from-responsibility shtick from corporate behemoths like Uber, KFC's Yum Brands, and McDonald's is outdated.
The rules shouldn't "guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers, while maintaining control of the workplace,” the Board's Democratic majority wrote.
If fast food workers at a franchisee unionized, they'd be able to negotiate for better wages and benefits not only with the location owner, but also with corporate HQ.
If it's determined that Uber employs its drivers, then the online taxi company could be on the hook for normal payroll deductions and benefits.
But any upside for workers may be a long time in coming. Corporations are expected to sue. Appeals could mean years before a final decision.
In the meantime, Republican Congressmen like Kline are charging out hard on the side of The Man.
After the ruling was announced, Kline said in a statement that Republicans "will work to roll back this flawed decision," essentially arguing that empowering more workers will somehow lead to the ruin of American capitalism.
"The board has set a dangerous precedent that will lead to higher costs for consumers and fewer jobs for workers," said Kline. "This radical scheme will also threaten the livelihoods of men and women who achieved the dream of owning a small business and will make it even harder for others to pursue the same opportunity."