Wednesday, March 23, 2011

[olympiaworkers] Jimmy John's Resists Campaign to Reform Sick Day Policy with Illegal Firing of Six Workers

Industrial Workers of the World

Sandwich Chain Seeks to Suppress Educational Poster on the Risks of Eating
Food Prepared by Sick Employees

Jimmy John's Workers Union - Industrial Workers of the World

Contacts: Micah Buckley-Farlee, 612-845-9290 Mike Wilkow, 612-807-6633

March 23, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS- In an effort to silence employees who have blown the whistle
on serious food safety hazards at Jimmy John's, the company fired six
workers yesterday for putting up posters demanding the right to call in
sick and paid sick days in order to avoid exposing customers to infection.
Under current policy, Jimmy John's workers are disciplined for calling in
sick if they cannot find a replacement, forcing many workers to make
sandwiches while ill.

"It just isn't safe -- customers are getting their sandwiches made by
people with the flu, and they have no idea," said Micah Buckley-Farlee,
one of the fired workers, "and now we're getting fired for blowing the
whistle on this disgusting practice. Rather than safeguard public health
and do the right thing for their employees and their customers, Jimmy
John's owners Mike and Rob Mulligan are trying to silence us. These
illegal and offensive firings will not stand."

In addition to the threat of discipline for calling in sick, many workers
are unable to afford to take a day off if they are ill because wages at
the sandwich chain hover around the federal minimum of $7.25 and the
company offers no benefits. The result of these pressures is that
sandwich-makers often have to work while sick, creating an enormous public
health risk. The issue of working while sick in restaurants has assumed
increased concern from the public in recent years. A recent study
performed by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy shows a
marked increase in workers unable to take sick leave noting that of the
793 employees surveyed 72% said they worked while they had severe flu

The risky anti-union firings at Jimmy John's could easily backfire on the
company. Firing workers in retaliation for organizing activity is
expressly forbidden by the National Labor Relations Act. The IWW Jimmy
John's Workers Union will file charges with the National Labor Relations
Board today seeking reinstatement of all fired workers. The workers are
hopeful that the NLRB will consider an injunction to reinstate the fired
workers while litigation progresses. Regardless of the outcome of legal
action, the union workers have announced that direct actions against the
franchise, such as picketing, will continue to escalate until they have
won the demand for paid sick days and all illegally fired workers are

"All we want is for the owner Rob Mulligan to do the right thing,"

says Alyssa Rodewald, a Jimmy John's worker who was fired for calling in
sick last week. "Spend your money giving us paid sick days and protecting
customers, not spending legal fees in a hopeless attempt to justify your
immoral actions".

The Jimmy Johns Workers Union, open to employees at the company
nationwide, 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.

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