Submitted on Thu, 04/28/2011 - 8:02pm
By FW John O’Reilly
On Saturday April 16, IWW members and friends enjoyed a day of free educational talks in the new union office in South Minneapolis. The event was organized by the Work People’s College, a committee of the IWW branch, and promoted ideas and conversations about different important themes that working people are facing today. Over 60 people attended the talks through the course of the day, and many members took away important lessons and invaluable conversations.
Class topics included an update and discussion about the current struggles faced by pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and Northern Africa, a panel featuring organizers working in the low-wage sector and a talk about the importance of the strike as a tactic for workers. Members of the Madison IWW branch came to help lead reflections about the movement for a general strike in Wisconsin and where the situation stands today. Throughout the day, Wobblies talked and showed a characteristic dedication to educating one another and ourselves.
Submitted on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 3:06pm
It may come as a surprise to those who have never worked in the food industry to hear that not only Jimmy John's sandwiches, but also the pizzas, salads, burgers, and burritos that are consumed in many American restaurants often have a few secret ingredients: cold, flu, and other germs. There is a simple reason for this. Jimmy John's and many other fast food restaurants do not allow workers to take sick days. Management pressures sick workers to find a replacement or come to work. In addition, wages at Jimmy John's and throughout US food service are so low that workers cannot afford to take a day off if they fall ill. The result of these pressures is that American restaurant workers work while sick, creating an enormous public health risk. The evidence is not just anecdotal; in a recent study performed by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, of 793 employees surveyed 72% said they worked while they had severe flu symptoms. It doesn't have to be this way. According to an Institute for Social Health and Policy study, 127 countries guaranteed at least a week of paid sick days per year for all workers.
The IWW Jimmy John's Workers Union is tired of seeing our coworkers with colds, the flu, or even strep throat be forced to risk getting written up or being fired for protecting public health. So we proposed a simple solution to Mike and Rob Mulligan, the owners of our franchise. For weeks, we called on them to allow workers to call in sick and provide some paid time off. Week after week, they ignored our polite requests. As flu season hit its peak, we gave them an ultimatum–-reform your sick day policy or we will inform the public that you are putting private profits over public health.
Mike and Rob Mulligan refused, so we put up 3000 posters throughout the city alerting the public that the sandwiches you consume could be filled with cold and flu germs from workers who can't take a day off.
In retaliation for blowing the whistle, Jimmy John's fired six outspoken union members in an attempt to silence us.
Submitted on Sat, 03/26/2011 - 12:02pm
Whistleblower Workers Pledge Action for Right to Call in Sick, Paid Sick Days
Jimmy John's Workers Union- Industrial Workers of the World
Contacts: David Boehnke, 651-315-4222 and Davis Ritsema, 612-281-9772
March 25, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS- Thousands of community supporters have jammed Jimmy John's phone lines and flooded the chain's Facebook page with messages of outrage and support for six whistleblowers who were fired for exposing widespread coercion to work while sick at the chain. Today, the workers have announced that they plan to escalate actions against Jimmy John's until their demands for the right to call in sick, paid sick days, and reinstatement of the fired workers are met.
“We will not be silenced. Speaking out against the policy of forcing workers to work while sick is not only our right, it is our duty. “ said Erik Forman, one of the fired sandwich workers. “The unfettered greed of franchise owner Mike Mulligan and Jimmy John himself jeopardizes the health of thousands of customers and workers almost every day. We will speak out until they realizes that no one wants to eat a sandwich filled with cold and flu germs.”
Under current policy, Jimmy John's workers are disciplined for calling in sick if they cannot find a replacement. In addition, many workers are unable to afford to take a day off if they are ill because wages at the sandwich chain hover around the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. The result of these pressures is that sandwich-makers often have to work while sick, creating an enormous public health risk.
After franchise management rebuffed numerous employee requests to reform the sick day policy, members of the IWW Jimmy John's Workers Union posted 3000 copies of a poster advising the public of health risks at the sandwich chain. Management fired six outspoken union members in retaliation.
Submitted on Wed, 03/23/2011 - 12:38pm
Sandwich Chain Seeks to Suppress Educational Poster on the Risks of Eating Food Prepared by Sick Employees
Jimmy John's Workers Union - Industrial Workers of the World
Contacts: Micah Buckley-Farlee, 612-845-9290 Mike Wilkow, 612-807-6633
March 23, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS- In an effort to silence employees who have blown the whistle on serious food safety hazards at Jimmy John's, the company fired six workers yesterday for putting up posters demanding the right to call in sick and paid sick days in order to avoid exposing customers to infection. Under current policy, Jimmy John's workers are disciplined for calling in sick if they cannot find a replacement, forcing many workers to make sandwiches while ill.
"It just isn't safe -- customers are getting their sandwiches made by people with the flu, and they have no idea," said Micah Buckley-Farlee, one of the fired workers, "and now we're getting fired for blowing the whistle on this disgusting practice. Rather than safeguard public health and do the right thing for their employees and their customers, Jimmy John's owners Mike and Rob Mulligan are trying to silence us. These illegal and offensive firings will not stand."
In addition to the threat of discipline for calling in sick, many workers are unable to afford to take a day off if they are ill because wages at the sandwich chain hover around the federal minimum of $7.25 and the company offers no benefits. The result of these pressures is that sandwich-makers often have to work while sick, creating an enormous public health risk. The issue of working while sick in restaurants has assumed increased concern from the public in recent years. A recent study performed by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy shows a marked increase in workers unable to take sick leave noting that of the 793 employees surveyed 72% said they worked while they had severe flu symptoms.
Submitted on Mon, 12/20/2010 - 2:41pm
Jimmy Johns Workers Union (Industrial Workers of the World)
Contact: Micah Buckley-Farlee, 612-845-9290
MINNEAPOLIS- Jimmy John's workers will call on Minneapolis franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan today to honor the spirit of the season by offering holiday pay to their employees on federal and major religious holidays. Workers plan to ask customers to sign 'Holiday Cards' asking the Mulligans to open their hearts and their wallets for workers who will spend Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, and other holidays selling sandwiches rather than enjoying the company of their families.
Although time and half pay on holidays is a standard benefit in almost all workplaces, Jimmy John’s falls short of industry standards by paying most workers minimum wage to work through the holidays.
“The Mulligans expect us to come in to work for minimum wage on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day instead of spending time with our families. It's not like time and a half is even that much money when you are making $7.25 an hour. This is really about respect. It feels like we're working for Scrooge,” said Brittany Koppy, a worker at the Dinkytown Jimmy John's.
For bicycle delivery drivers, the pressure to work through the holiday season carries additional risk.
“Everyone is stressed during the this time of year and the roads are brutal. I fell three times and injured myself while working on Christmas Eve last year,” said Micah Buckley-Farlee, a bicycle delivery driver at the Dinkytown store, adding, “Holiday pay is an issue of both safety and respect.”