Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Freaky Fast Sandwiches" more like "Freaky Low Wages," one area-group says

Originally from the Rapidian

Demonstrators Outside of Eastown Jimmy John's

Photo Credit: Nick Manes

Demonstrators Outside of Eastown Jimmy John's

The Jimmy John’s sandwich chain is known for their “Freaky Fast Sandwiches,” witty signs, and primarily college-age staff. Poor labor practices is something that they are not well known for. However, the Industrial Workers of the World are hoping to change that.

On Labor Day (Monday) afternoon, around a dozen people stood in the rain outside of the Jimmy John’s store on Wealthy Street in Eastown. Local organizer for the IWW Cole Dorsey explained that the demonstration was done as part of a solidarity campaign with Jimmy John’s workers in Minneapolis, Minn.

Dorsey said that the workers in Minneapolis had been organizing for a couple of years, primarily around issues of increased wages, seeking benefits, scheduled breaks and a host of other matters. This past Thursday, the Minnesota workers went public with their demand letter to Jimmy John’s management but were denied an opportunity to meet with the franchise owners. Dorsey added that within a short period of time, there were multiple ads on the Minneapolis Craig’s List looking for new workers.

Here in Grand Rapids, Dorsey said that the local chapter of the IWW began going to area Jimmy John’s on Friday and speaking with employees.

“People voiced their disapproval of making minimum wage, not having scheduled breaks, and no sick days the most,” Dorsey said of his conversations with Grand Rapids Jimmy John’s employees. “We have given national and local contact info to every worker we’ve contacted. We are following up with every worker that contacts us” Dorsey added via email.

Monday’s solidarity demonstration was attended by primarily IWW members, but some people were just there to show their support as well.

IWW member Lou Palus explained that he attended in support of solidarity for Jimmy John’s employees to earn better wages. “Without a union, employees have no voice; it’s just the corporations.”

Supporter Evelyn Stone said, “workers have been courageous to stand up for their rights ... They are setting a good example.”

This reporter did go into the Eastown Jimmy John’s store during the demonstration to attempt to get a comment from either the manager or one of the employees. However, that request was denied.

No comments: