In August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that subcontractors, franchisees, and other workers should be granted the right to join labor unions.
The move is one step in a larger campaign by organized labor to work around the fact that large American corporations are increasingly using independent contractors rather than traditional full-time employees. These "joint employees" have typically been excluded from union membership, thus diminishing the negotiating power of labor.
In a bid to reduce their tax responsibilities, benefit obligations, and regulatory burdens, companies sometimes turn to temporary workers. The NLRB reports that there were 2.87 million such temp workers in August 2014, and says that number is increasing rapidly.
The ruling, which reverses NLRB decisions from 1990 and 1973, could affect everyone from the owner and workers at your local franchised McDonald's outlet to the Uber driver who picks you up when you request a ride with your smartphone.
As summer drew to a close, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R–Minn.) told The Washington Post he would work to "roll back" the move, while Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R–Tenn.) announced he would introduce a bill to "invalidate" the ruling.