7-Eleven Inc. franchise owners in the U.S. are urging lawmakers to improve federal oversight of franchising in a bid to ensure operators like them are not exposed to "unfair, unconscionable or potentially predatory" contractual terms.
According to a May 22 release, members of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees, or NCASEF, met with senior staff members of the House Education and Labor Committee, as well as with their home-state congressional delegations, to voice their concerns.
"Our message to Members of Congress is that the playing field is slanted in favor of franchisors because of the heavily one-sided way franchise agreements are written. These franchise agreements reflect the overwhelming imbalance of contractual and financial power wielded by franchisors," NCASEF Chairman Jay Singh said in a statement.
NCASEF detailed the ways 7-Eleven allegedly treats its franchisees as employees instead of owners, and called on lawmakers to examine whether the agreements the operators sign with the convenience store operator more closely represent an employment contract rather than a franchise agreement.
The group also raised concerns of franchisees in Japan, where a labor shortage has created friction over keeping stores open 24/7.
"We have many times reached out to our franchisor in an effort to establish a good faith dialogue based on mutual respect and transparency, but, unfortunately, we have not seen a positive response," Singh said.
NCASEF will continue holding their May board meetings in Washington so they can provide updates to lawmakers, according to the statement.
7-Eleven is the overseas arm of Japanese retail conglomerate Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd.