Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Jimmy John’s workers in Minneapolis unionize

September 7, 2010

jimmyjohnsHere’s a Labor Day story for you: Newly unionized workers at nine Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis took to the streets over the weekend to protest minimum-wage pay, inconsistent daily schedules (some as short as one hour), and a lack of sick days.

“We formed a union to fight for change, starting at Jimmy John’s today, and throughout the entire fast food industry tomorrow,” David Boehnke, a union member said.

Only a handful of fast-food workers are unionized in the United States. They are highly likely to earn minimum wage and to be employed on a part-time basis, which makes them ineligible for benefits like health insurance and paid vacations. (Full-time workers who earn the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would make $15,080 a year — just above the federal poverty line of $14,570 a year for a family of two.)

The newly minted Jimmy John’s union members are part of the Industrial Workers of the World, which has grabbed headlines for its efforts to unionize Starbucks workers.

This week, they are calling on IWW members in other states to help them pressure Minneapolis Jimmy John’s franchise owners Rob and Mike Mulligan to negotiate.

“We are very proud of our employment record in Minneapolis and take issue with the claims by the IWW. We value our relationship with our employees and offer competitive wages and good local jobs,” the franchise owners said in a statement. They declined to elaborate, a spokeswoman said.

Jimmy John’s is a 995-restaurant chain with its headquarters in Champaign, Illinois, according to the company’s web site.

(Photo: Jimmy John’s Workers Union)

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