In These Times published a piece yesterday about the unionization efforts of employees who work for Jimmy John's sandwich shops in Baltimore. The story says that the workers have organized the Jimmy John's Workers Union under the banner of the IWW, and that they've filed unfair labor practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board. This follows an effort by Jimmy John's workers in Minnesota who filed an NLRB complaint against the owner of 10 of the sandwich franchises for committing unfair labor practices against employees who were protesting for – wait for it – paid sick leave. Which, by the way, Orange County voters approved overwhelmingly at the polls this week, despite the fact that the state Legislature has already passed a law making it illegal for the county to force businesses to provide it. So, no mandatory sick time for anyone here.
Jimmy John's employees are among the latest fast-food workers to start speaking up for themselves. In March, workers for McDonald's filed a class-action suit against the company for allegedly "systematically withholding pay." In May, fast-food workers all over the country organized a mass walkout to protest low wages, lack of paid sick time and better working conditions.
So far, Jimmy John's Orlando workers have not announced any plans to get involved with the union movement, which seems to be a nascent effort, but it has been interesting to watch this trend of fast-food workers agitating for better working conditions unfold.
In addition to the Jimmy John's union effort, Starbucks employees have formed a union push under the IWW banner.