The heavy hand of government is once again trying to squash private industry. The latest target is McDonald’s, as Investor’s Business Daily reports:

Last week, while most of the country was focused on the last shopping weekend before Christmas, the National Labor Relations Board designated McDonald's Corp. as a "joint employer" with its nearly 14,000 U.S. franchises. It's a neatly wrapped gift to unions and a sooty lump of coal for consumers, franchisees and, ultimately, workers themselves.

The NLRB general counsel, say media reports, "ruled that the company violated the rights of employees openly seeking better pay and working conditions." The ruling appears to be the extension of a political agenda.

Marshall Babson — an attorney at Seyfarth Shaw who was an NLRB member from 1985 to 1989 — told Human Resource Executive magazine that he "can't imagine what evidence the general counsel at NLRB has to justify the issuance of the complaints, but for more than 50 years, the general view has been that you can't be a joint employer unless you're an employer."

Babson, who would know, said his "understanding is that if you're McDonald's and most (other) franchisors, you don't become engaged in" hiring and firing workers.

"You don't set their wages, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment on a day-to-day basis," he said. "So (the NLRB complaints) represent an extraordinary departure from the past."

This ruling means that McDonald’s franchises may now have to become unionized, and as IBD continues:

This is good for union bosses but it will cost franchisees.

Once unionized, they will either have to raise prices to keep up with an increased payroll or cut employee costs through layoffs, hiring freezes and accelerated automation programs.

In September, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., held a hearing in which he called the NLRB's expected joint-employer ruling a "Big Labor bailout."

At that Education and the Workforce hearing, labor lawyer Todd Duffield testified that the ruling would threaten "established business relationships and will cause significant economic upheaval," while one franchisee said franchise owners should "expect lower profits."

Unions have been crushing American businesses for decades. Adding McDonald's — and other — franchises to the list of the mangled and maimed will be just another day of business for them.