surfaced yesterday with the announcement that a federal judge has ordered Jimmy John's to reinstate six workers who were fired last year after campaigning for paid sick days.A food integrity victory
FIC has been following the struggle of Jimmy John's employees who have been organizing for worker rights – including the right to prevent customers from eating sandwiches made by sick workers – only to be intimidated and retaliated against by franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan for doing it. It's great to see that, once again, the National Labor Relations Board has validated worker voices, requiring that Jimmy John's reinstate those who were fired with back pay (about $10,000 each) within 14 days. (Get a recap of the NLRB trial and the events leading up to it here.)
From the Jimmy John's Workers Union press release:
On the witness stand, Mike Mulligan admitted under oath that he had fired the six workers because he perceived them as the “leaders and developers” of a unionization effort. Mulligan's credibility was further eroded when he testified to intentionally lying to the press about the franchise's food safety record.
As we've explained before, food worker unions equip members with safeguards comparable to whistleblower protections. Because of these protections, workers don't have to risk their job when speaking out when they witness public health threats, worker safety issues, etc. Wouldn't it be comforting to fast food customers if they knew the workers who served them didn't have to handle food while they are sneezing up flu germs?
Today in Minneapolis, Jimmy John's workers and supporters will be picketing outside the chain stores to persuade the Mulligans to comply with the judge's ruling and urge them not to delay the case's resolution with an appeal. It's been more than a year since the workers were fired in March 2011 for exposing to the public a company policy that results in "an average of two workers making sandwiches while sick every day at the Minneapolis franchise of the chain."
We say they've been waiting long enough.
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.