The new culture of corporate impunity

You see it everywhere.  In today’s Times, a story about a wave of NLRB charges against McDonald’s:

The charges said that McDonald’s and its franchisees illegally disciplined employees who had protested, reduced their hours, spied on them and restricted their ability to communicate with union representatives.

Ouch.  You would expect a outraged denial from the company, right?  At least a statement saying that such conduct, even if McDonald’s denies being liable for it, is unacceptable.

Nope.  McDonald’s gave one quote for the article:

McDonald’s said that the general counsel’s action “improperly and dramatically strikes at the heart of the franchise system — a system that creates economic opportunity, jobs and income for thousands of business owners and their employees.

And then it lets its thugs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation do the talking, without a word on the merits, simply “warning that [the NLRB action] could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs by forcing franchising companies to rethink and reduce their number of franchised outlets.”  Blah blah blah.

The idea that McD’s and others would lay off hundreds of thousands of workers and close thousands of restaurants because they have to take some responsibility for franchisee labor conditions, when they already exercise dictator-level control over marketing, promotions, and countless other operational details, is patently self-serving and melodramatic.

But my real point here is how neither McD’s nor any of their linemen even feel the need to address the incredibly serious allegations of rights violations behind the NLRB lawsuits.  It appears to have become perfectly acceptable to stand on your impunity defense with nothing more.  This was always the case in court, but if it’s now the case in the court of public opinion, it makes for a sad statement on where things stand.