Submitted on Thu, 09/16/2010 - 3:47am
By Christine Des Garennes - The News-Gazette, September 15, 2010
Employees of a Jimmy John's franchise in Minnesota have organized a union and are seeking better pay, better working conditions and more benefits.
Right now the campaign is focused on organizing employees in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. The Jimmy John's sandwich chain, which has over 1,000 stores across the country, is headquartered in Champaign.
An "overwhelming majority" of sandwich workers at the Minneapolis stores favored forming a bargaining unit, according to union member and Jimmy John's worker Mike Wilklow. On Monday the group filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to start the formal election process; that election is expected to take place in the coming months, Wilklow said.
Once a majority of employees vote in favor of forming the union, the Minneapolis franchise owner must start negotiating with the union's bargaining team, he said.
Workers announced the formation of the union earlier this month and have picketed outside several Minnesota stores since Labor Day. The union is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, which has been helping Starbucks workers organize in recent years.
Submitted on Thu, 09/16/2010 - 3:40am
The Construction Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World wishes to express our deepest solidarity with the Jimmy Johns Workers union. As union construction workers, we understand that the only way to maintain and raise both our wages and working conditions is to show solidarity with not only workers of the various trades within construction; but also with workers of other industries. Solidarity means having a true understanding of the old saying, An injury to one is an injury to all.
Solidarity is also the action that springs from this understanding. The greatest action of solidarity that one can follow is the exercising of the right to not cross any picket lines.
Everyone knows that times are hard. The construction industry has been hit especially hard, and many brothers and sisters in the trades are not working. This means that what little work we get, we desperately need.
However, as construction workers; we also understand that in these hard times, we must act and be stronger than ever before! For hundreds of years, construction worker have fought long and hard battles, through many recessions, to reach the level of pay and the amount of power we have on the job. We certainly should not let this recession destroy the progress we have made.
The Construction Workers Organizing Committee and the construction workers of the IWW promise to continue to not cross picket lines! No matter what union or what industry, we will continue to act out solidarity and exercise our rights under section 7 of the NLRA: to act in concert with fellow workers to uphold the best interest of the working class. We urge all construction workers to do the same!
Who we are: The Construction Workers Organizing Committee or CWOC is a subordinate body of the Industrial Workers of the World. Our aim is to organize ALL construction workers into ONE democratic fighting union. For more info about us, what we are doing, where we are going, and how you can help, please go to www.iu330.org
Submitted on Mon, 09/13/2010 - 2:58am
Staff Report - WorkDay Minnesota, Monday 13th September 2010
MINNEAPOLIS - Jimmy John's franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan awoke to an unpleasant surprise last week as employees disrupted construction of the newest store in the chain with picket lines.
The picketing sandwich workers appealed to members of Minneapolis building trades unions working on the new store to down their tools until the Mulligans agree to meet with the newly-formed Jimmy Johns Workers Union.
“If Mike and Rob Mulligan have $300,000 to open another Jimmy Johns, then they have the money to meet our demands for a decent wage, consistent hours, and basic fairness at work. If they're not going to meet with us, then we have no choice but to hit them where it hurts. We are happy with the outcome of today's action– construction at the site was delayed for about an hour,” said Davis Ritsema, a member of the union.
Most construction workers employed under a union contract in Minnesota have the right to refuse to cross picket lines. Under Minnesota state law, motor vehicles are required to come to a complete stop at picket lines so that picketers can appeal to the driver not to cross the line.
The Jimmy Johns Workers Union, open to employees at the company nationwide, is the first fast food union in the nation, and 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.
Submitted on Mon, 09/06/2010 - 3:09pm
Still no response from corporate headquarters
MINNEAPOLIS - In the true spirit of Labor Day, supporters of the Jimmy Johns Workers Union in 32 states nationwide will take to the streets in an unprecedented National Week of Action to pressure Minneapolis franchise owner MikLin enterprises to meet with their workers.
In Minneapolis alone, more than 200 union members and supporters are expected to rally at the University of Minnesota for a performance by local hip-hop stars I Self Divine and Guante, followed by a march on two area stores.
The Minneapolis Jimmy Johns Workers Union, the first chapter in the country, is riding high on the momentum of several days of successful demonstrations and pickets in Minneapolis with crowds in the hundreds.
The union says actions will intensify as long as owner Mike Mulligan and General Manager Rob Mulligan refuse to meet with the union. “The Mulligans need to know that we aren't just hard-working employees, but students and parents; real people with real concerns. These are our lives. We're tired of being ignored and degraded at job after low wage job. We're tired of being expendable,” said Jake Foucalt, a union member in Minneapolis. “The pressure will continue to build until we are listened to.”
The national corporate headquarters of Jimmy Johns has yet to respond to the unionization campaign, the first at the expanding sandwich empire. The union effort could have profound implications for other employers in the fast food industry, a sector known for the lowest rate of unionization– and lowest wages– in the United Sates. Only 1.8% of food service workers were represented by a union in 2009, far below the nation-wide figure of 12.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A person working 30 hours a week on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would make $3260 below the federal poverty line for a family of two. Jimmy Johns pays minimum wage and maintains a corporate policy of discouraging managers from scheduling workers more than 20 hours per week.
Submitted on Mon, 09/06/2010 - 2:28pm
By Daniel Gross, Z Net - September 6, 2010
With the political elites and professional pundits awaiting President Obama's proposal to boost the economy next week, a far more compelling path to safeguard the financial health of working families emerged in an unlikely place. Whichever tepid government plan moves forward won't alter, in the long run, the economic decline of America's hard-working men and women. Because the problems facing this country's working class are problems that government can't and certainly won't fix - can't because the problem is a lack of self-organization among working people and won't because the politicians side with the monied interests who fund their campaigns, not with workers.
Look for the Union Label
So the well-intentioned people calling for this or that economic initiative from the President next week, ought to look instead to the good folks who prepare and serve sandwiches at the Minneapolis locations of national fast food chain, Jimmy John's. (If you live in one of the 11 states that the company hasn't expanded to yet and haven't heard of it, you can think of the Jimmy John's brand as Subway with an irreverent, college-town vibe).
The solution implemented by the Jimmy John's workers is both beguiling in its simplicity and stunning in its power. They decided not to petition government, run away from a bad situation and find another bad job, or keep making futile pleas as individuals for change from their bosses. On September 2, in anticipation of Labor Day weekend, workers at nine Minneapolis Jimmy John's stores announced that they had formed a member-run union with the most innovative labor organization in the country, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
The workers are seeking to create good jobs at Jimmy John's instead of the minimum wage gigs with no benefits and fluctuating schedules that currently prevail at the chain. By the way, the corporate public relations-speak for these kinds of jobs was ably demonstrated by Rob and Mike Mulligan, the owners of the nine Minneapolis Jimmy John's locations. The millionaire Mulligan brothers angrily reacted to the workers' decision to organize by explaining that they, “offer competitive wages and good local jobs.” So remember, next time fast food executives talk about “competitive wages”, they mean minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour. “Good” means the jobs are good for the boss's bank account. And “local” means the company executives were kind enough not to outsource the sandwich making function to China or India.