Wages and hours division candidate will hurt New Hampshire small businesses
Published: 08/04/2021 07:00:13 AM
As a first generation American, I was fortunate enough to grow up in the land of plenty. My parents weren’t so lucky. They left Portugal for Rhode Island decades ago, fleeing a dilapidated dictatorship and seeking economic opportunities unknown to our people. This determination and courage has rubbed off on me and through years of hard work I have managed to get my own share of the American Dream. I rose through the ranks until I now own 32 small business franchise branches in New Hampshire and employ over 500 people on our fantastic team.
There is a saying in Portuguese, É melhor prevent that remedy, which roughly translates to “Prevention is better than repair”. I hope these words of wisdom will guide Sense. Hassan and Shaheen when they consider the ill-advised candidate chosen to head the wages and hours division of President Biden’s labor department, Dr David Weil.
For the most part, Dr. Weil is no one they have never heard of. He has an impressive resume that features people like Harvard and former times in the Department of Labor under President Obama. Sadly, for over 3,000 small business franchise owners in New Hampshire like myself, Dr. Weil’s work touches closer to home. That’s because he made a name for himself and dedicated his career to trying to bankrupt us.
Dr Weil is the author of The cracked workplace, a theory so grossly out of touch with reality that many have called it a ‘myth’ (WSJ Opinion, 01/16/19). Dr Weil’s main argument is that franchises like mine are engaged in outsourcing, bringing no recognizable good to the workers or the company, as they increasingly shy away from the responsibility of their franchise owners like me. . It is the “cracking” of the workplace, which he says harms all parties except big business. In a cracked world, the only way to fill the void is to expand accountability, strengthen union participation and bargaining power, and essentially turn the entire franchise model into a corporation.
The problem is, this logic isn’t just flawed, it fundamentally misses the mark that makes the franchise uniquely accessible and inclusive. Although my brand provides me with a reputable brand and product, I am the one who runs our operations. I control hiring and firing, payroll, benefits and everything that happens in our businesses. Out-of-state executives in a distant state don’t make these decisions for me. When we fund a local football team, it is our local customers’ money that goes back to our community. I can’t stress this enough when it comes to franchises: the name above the door may be nationally recognizable, but the people inside who keep the lights on are your neighbors.
Dr. Weil also doesn’t see how franchising strengthens people like me. For immigrants, first generation Americans, women, people of color and other groups who continue to face disadvantages and barriers in accessing capital, property and other mechanisms of Creating wealth, franchising offers an incredibly inclusive opportunity. Indeed, franchising offers anyone, regardless of their experience or background, the opportunity to own and operate their own business without the huge costs and risks of starting from scratch.
Additionally, Dr. Weil’s anti-small business policies and policies do not match those of our state. In 2017, Governor Chris Sununu enacted SB 89, explicitly putting franchise owners on an equal footing with their companies. SB 89 cemented that franchise owners like me are the true employers of our employees, not the headquarters of national and international chains hundreds and thousands of miles away.
Dr. Weil would rather I and small business owners in our state serve as collateral damage and lose the capital we have invested in our businesses if that meant increasing union membership. The irony is that he touts these theories and policies as equalizer solutions that help the little guy against the big business. In reality, the “cracked workplace” and all of its embodiments have the opposite effect for us in the Granite State. You can’t inadvertently run over David and pretend to be fighting Goliath. Dr. Weil shouldn’t be able to put a blatantly flawed theory into practice, and I urge Sens. Hassan and Shaheen to keep this in mind when considering his appointment.
(John Motta is president of the Coalition of Franchise Associations. He lives in Nashua.)