Jimmy Johns franchise fires union workers after sick-day campaign
The owners of 10 Minnesota Jimmy Johnâs sandwich shops â where a rare unionization vote was narrowly rejected last year â have fired six union organizers. The terminated workers are members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a formerly high-profile union better known as the Wobblies, and said they were fired after they put up 3,000 posters (shown here) around Minneapolis as part of a campaign to win paid sick days. Michael Mulligan, president of MikLin Enterprises Inc, which operates the affected Jimmy Johnâs restaurants,Â told Reuters that theÂ terminated union workers âcrossed well over the line of protected activityâ with their latest appeal. âThe posters dishonestly state that Jimmy Johnâs workers are forced to work while sick and suggest that the health of customers is at risk when eating at our restaurants,â said Mulligan, who characterized the IWW as anti-capitalist, anarchist and socialist. âThese posters are false and misleading at best, and in the view of our company, they are defamatory, disparaging and dishonest,â added Mulligan, who said that his business has operated for a decade andÂ served 6 million sandwiches without gettingÂ diners sick. Most fast-food restaurant workers receiveÂ low wages and getÂ little in the way of benefits such asÂ health insurance.Â Paid sick days are a rarity in the industry, which is known for squeezing out costs in order to offer low-priced fare.Â One exception isÂ San Francisco, whichÂ in 2007 became the first U.S.Â city to require employers toÂ give workers paid sick leave. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a restaurant workers organization, in October released a study showing thatÂ nearly 88 percent of workers reported not receiving paid sick days and that more than 63 percent of all restaurant workers admitted toÂ cooking and serving food while sick. MulliganÂ saidÂ Jimmy Johnâs employees are not allowed to work if they are having flu-like symptoms. Those employees areÂ expected to find someone to cover their shift if they are sick and may beÂ subject to disciplinary action if they do not. âSince they pay us around minimum wage, most of us canât afford to take a day off to get well,Â said David Boehnke, one of the firedÂ sandwich-makers at the chain, whose mottos include âSubs so fast youâll freak.â âThis is a public health issue. Jimmy Johnâs needs to do the right thing,Â Boehnke said. Erik Forman, anotherÂ terminated worker, called theÂ firingsÂ âan attempt to destroy the union.â ÂSpeaking out against the policy of forcing workers to work while sick is not only our right, it is our duty,Â said Forman.Â âWe will speak out until they realize that no one wants to eat a sandwich filled with cold and flu germs.Â Where do you fall?Â Does the fast-food industryâs sick-day policy make you freak? Did theÂ union members cross the line?