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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Jimmy John’s Union Effort Continues after Retaliation Investigation

Food Integrity Campaign | January 12, 2011

The unionization effort at Jimmy John’s sub sandwich outlets in the Minneapolis area scored a victory Monday when the National Labor Relations Board nullified an October election that defeated the union move. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or ‘Wobblies’) had sought to represent workers at 10 of the restaurant chain’s shops but lost by two votes, 87 to 85. However, the Wobblies then filed charges against the franchise holder, Miklin Enterprises, accusing the company of unfair labor practices leading up to the vote.

A Jimmy John’s Workers Union press release states:

The settlement validates workers’ claims that franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan were able to squeak out an 87-85 victory in the election only by resorting to unlawful tactics including threatening a wage freeze, intentionally fabricating rumors that the union engaged in sabotage, retaliating against union supporters, and numerous other labor rights violations.

An investigation by National Labor Relations Board led to this week’s settlement, which does not find the owner guilty on any of the charges but requires the company not to engage in any intimidation or retaliation in the future. Bloomberg reports:

Under the agreement, Jimmy John’s must post notices informing employees of their rights to join a union, and host employee meetings in which a representative of the labor board will read union notices with the company’s owner in the room. In 60 days, the union will be eligible to seek a fresh election at the restaurants, part of a closely held Champaign, Illinois- based chain that has more than 1,000 shops.

Now the union plans to negotiate with the owners its “10 Point Program for Justice at Jimmy John’s.” If core demands – including pay increases, paid sick days and improved job security – are not met, the IWW can set up another election within 18 months, “with the employer promising to let the vote take place within 30 days of the request.” (NYT)

Things as simple as feeling safe enough to ask for paid sick days is key when even more serious issues arise, such as the recent salmonella outbreak that may have ties to Jimmy John’s alfalfa sprouts. Ensuring food integrity involves a comfortable work environment where staff members feel safe to speak up in the first place.


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.