Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Is a union on the menu at Jimmy John’s?

October 1, 2010

Workers at 10 Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurants in Minneapolis could make history this month — if they say “yes” to union representation.

jimmyjohnsThe National Labor Relations Board on Oct. 22 will oversee a secret ballot election for 200 Jimmy John’s workers in the city. If a majority of them approve, it would be a first for the U.S. fast-food industry and the company would be legally bound to negotiate with a bargaining team elected by employees.

“People say fast food is unorganizable. We say failure is not an option,” said Jaim’ee Bolte, a union member. “It’s time for change in America, we hope this will be a turning point for all workers.”

Food preparation and service jobs are among the fastest-growing occupations in the United States, but they typically offer part-time hours, limited or no benefits and pay roughly on par with minimum wage. Employee turnover is high and many fast-food workers are teenagers and young adults.   

“If these are the kinds of jobs that American workers will be stuck with, then we are going to make them quality jobs for working families,” said union member Mike Wilkow.

Workers previously told Reuters that they formed the Jimmy Johns Workers Union to combat minimum-wage pay and a lack of sick days. The union is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World.

(Photo: Jimmy Johns Workers Union)

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