Democrats are looking to gain a congressional majority during the upcoming midterm elections which could potentially have a big impact on franchise businesses.
President Donald Trump entered office with the promise of helping businesses and workers through economic growth. Congressional Republicans and the president have since worked to reform the tax system and roll back regulations. But the midterm elections could mean a major shift in direction if they lose a majority.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) is among the many business groups that have supported those efforts. While it’s difficult to predict what will happen, a Democratic majority could put those reforms at risk. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled what party leadership is focused on in her “A Better Deal” proposal.
“It’s very hard to predict if they controlled both chambers,” Matt Haller, the senior vice president of government relations and public affairs at the IFA, told InsideSources. “Nancy Pelosi has put out her version of the Better Deal. That’s what they’ll be campaigning on, at least from the leadership standpoint, and what would be her priorities were she to become Speaker of the House.”
Former President Barack Obama oversaw several notable reforms of workforce laws during his time in office. Those reforms have faced legal and congressional scrutiny with critics arguing that the changes went well beyond what the law allows. Some critics even countered the changes helped unions while hurting workers.
The Trump administration has worked to roll back a number of those policies through the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board. Donald Trump will still be president no matter how the midterm elections turn out, so Democrats winning a congressional majority won’t necessarily mean a lot of changes unless they have a way to work with the president or gain enough support to override vetoes. They could also slow down the administration’s reforms by blocking nominees to open positions.
Democrats have attempted to regain working-class support they lost in 2016 by introducing bills and proposals aimed at helping employees and the unions that represent them. A Better Deal was unveiled July 24 as a new economic agenda focused on the working-class. The plan primarily covers wages, job creation, labor unions, and workforce training.
“I think if you’re a business owner in the franchise space you ought to be very concerned about what that worldview is,” Haller said. “I don’t think that’s the worldview of even the majority of the Democratic caucus. And it still remains to be seen whether that is a platform, if there is a Democratic majority in the House, that they would support.”
A Better Deal has several provisions that have concerned the business community. It limits how employers can utilize independent contractors, and includes mandatory mediation and arbitration, a ban on right-to-work type laws, and shorter union elections. Haller noted particular concern over provisions that promise to raise the minimum wage.
Democrats have long argued that the federal minimum wage needs to be increased. The current national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn’t been updated since 2009. The Fight for $15 movement and other progressive groups have helped popularize the idea of raising it to $15 an hour. Those opposed warn that it could limit job opportunities and raise prices because of the added cost of labor.
A Better Deal promises to protect workers by strengthening union power so they can better fight for workers. Democrats have claimed policies like right-to-work actually harm workers by undermining unions. Republicans counter the proposal would actually benefit unions at the expense of workers by limiting their choice.
The Democratic agenda has still gained plenty of support despite the criticism. United Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone praised the proposal for strengthening the collective voice and negotiating rights of workers. The AFL-CIO praised Democrats for implementing a true workers’ rights agenda.
The White House and congressional leadership have instead looked to decrease the tax and regulatory burdens on employers – so they’ll have more time and resources to invest into their business and employees. Haller warns that those pro-business reforms are at risk of being lost if they lose a majority during the midterms.
“I think that most people understand that our country is very divided and Washington is done doing things this year,” Haller said. “But I don’t think there is a full appreciation within the business community, particularly in our membership, what a reversal of the positive economic policies could mean.”
The IFA works to educate its members on the political proceedings and proposals that impact them. The business association discusses these issues at its conventions and other industry conferences to raise awareness and get people involved – like by telling their personal stories of what it’s like to be a franchisee.