In Big Union Victory, NLRB finds in Favor of Six Unlawfully Fired Union Organizers Jimmy John's
NLRB Upholds Workers Free Speech Rights to Communicate Labor Disputes to the Public
MINNEAPOLIS- In a major victory for the nation's first fast food union, the National Labor Relations Board filed a legal complaint against Jimmy John's today, validating union claims that the franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan violated labor rights by firing six workers who blew the whistle on company policies which force workers to make sandwiches while sick.
"This is a tremendous victory for workers rights and public health advocates. Jimmy John's is not above the law. Seven months ago Jimmy John's fired six of us for telling the public that because our employer disciplines and fires workers for calling in sick, and because our poverty wages prevent us from taking a day off without pay, customers are exposed to sandwiches made by sick workers almost every day at Jimmy John's. We are demanding paid sick days for all restaurant workers to end this public health crisis," said Erik Forman, one of the fired workers.
The NLRB Complaint also alleges that Jimmy John's committed a slew of violations by using an anti-union Facebook group to unlawfully discourage workers from engaging in union activity, threatening workers with a mass firing in retaliation for union activity, interrogating employees about union activity, and unlawfully removing union posters from stores. Unless Jimmy John's agrees to reinstate the fired workers and comply with a government settlement of the charges, the company will be prosecuted by NLRB attorneys in an Administrative Law Court.
This is the second NLRB Complaint against Jimmy John's in the past year. Last January, the Labor Board threw out the results of a union election marred by illegal employer misconduct and implemented a settlement agreement. This latest Complaint demonstrates that Jimmy John's violated the first settlement agreement in which they pledged to respect workers rights, which could bring about serious legal consequences for franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan.
Workers at Jimmy John's began a campaign for the right to call in sick without being disciplined and paid sick days after a union survey of employees last Winter revealed that on average two employees are working while sick every day in the ten-store franchise. Franchise managers Mike and Rob Mulligan stonewalled employee requests for reform of the sick day policy for more than two months, prompting union supporters to take their message to the public by posting 3000 copies of a poster explaining that workers are forced to work while sick at the chain.
Franchise owner Mike Mulligan lashed out against his employees, firing six union organizers and disciplining others for the sick day poster action. He then claimed in writing that, ""the company has made more than 6 million sandwiches during its nearly 10 years in business-and no one's ever gotten sick from eating one." This claim was revealed as
an outright lie when the union released Department of Public Health reports which showed two outbreaks of foodborne illness at the franchise in the last five years, both due to employees working while ill.
The Jimmy Johns Workers Union, open to employees at the company nationwide, is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.