Franchisees need help in managing power relationships

Franchisors understand and make decisions based on national and legal power.

One source of power is wealth but there are others: education, technology, fraternity and collective action.

Franchisees are very powerful locally (ie. they get a tremendous amount of work done) but have little experience in managing power relationships at a comparative  franchisor level.

Smart franchisees hire smart people to fill their skill gap because they know they have to fight for their rights based on the franchisor’s “language”.

A case in point is one group called the Power Workers’ Union.

A bit of history:

The roots of the Power Workers’ Union go back to 1944, with the formation of the Employees’ Association at Ontario Hydro. Eleven years later, in 1955, the Association became the Ontario Hydro Employees’ Union and joined the National Union of Public Service Employees, which merged with the National Union of Public Employees in 1963 to form the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada’s largest union. Our present name – the Power Workers’ Union was adopted in 1993.

The Power Workers’ Union is the union of choice for the vast majority of workers in Ontario’s Power Production.

Membership of the PWU averaged 15,000 in 2002. Our members work throughout Ontario and make up a large majority of the employees at Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, TransAlta in Ottawa, Northwind Power, Mississagi Power, Hydro One and affiliate companies, the Electrical Safety Authority as well as the Independent Market Operator. The union also represents workers at local distribution companies throughout the province, as well as local cable and telephone companies, the County of Brant, Kinectrics, New Horizon System Solutions, Inergi, operators at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. as well as casual employees through PWU hiring hall agreements.

Some people think unions are bad, a cancer and should not be supported. Others think that organized labour is an important part of a civilized western democracy.

I’ve been a franchisee (2x), independent contractor (4x), manager and a Teamster in my life.

What I have observed is that a union exists because of management’s shortsightedness and greed. Every franchise system that I’ve known could directly, immediately and in the long-term profit from a professionally-run independent franchisee association.

Back to the Power Worker member example:

  • Does $18.30 a week ($951.60 dues annually) seem to be out of line to protect your family’s income security?
  • How much would you pay to regain and defend your work’s dignity?

And what will you make when you finally sell your franchise? You’ll be trusting your franchisor to leave the $135 million on the table as you transfer ownership to the next operator?


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