Grand Rapids, Mi. (WZZM) - Demands for improvements to working conditions have some Jimmy John's employees unionizing around the nation. One West Michigan location will be a test-ground on Labor Day.
About twenty I.W.W (Industrial Workers of the World) members, from the Grand Rapids chapter, will picket in front of the Wealthy St. Jimmy John's Monday from noon to 1pm, representing the franchise's employees across the nation who feel they're underappreciated in the workplace, in support of the Jimmy John's labor dispute in Minneapolis which started it all.
"A lot of Jimmy John's workers are asked to work one and two hour shifts, or are expected to put wear and tear on their vehicles without compensation," says Cole Dorsey, Grand Rapids organizer of the I.W.W. "It's difficult to get sick days or to get job-related workman's compensation [from Jimmy John's management]."
So, Dorsey and the rest of the Grand Rapids I.W.W. will represent area Jimmy John's employees in protest Monday. Leafleting and picketing is planned for 32 of the 39 states in which Jimmy John's operates.
Minneapolis Jimmy John's co-owner, Mike Mulligan said in a statement last week: "We are very proud of our employment record in Minneapolis and take issue with the claims of the I.W.W. We value our relationship with our employees and offer competitive wages and good local jobs. We are dedicated to providing a fair, equal and diverse workplace environment."
Dorsey, and his I.W.W. members, don't see it that way.
"Sexual harrassment, better pay, benefits for non-managerial employees - that's what the union workers, the sisters and brothers in Minneapolis, want from us on Labor Day," says Dorsey.
Jimmy John's workers in Grand Rapids are not members of the I.W.W., but Dorsey hopes that changes after Monday's picketing.
"We've had contact with the [Jimmy John's] workers all across Grand Rapids," says Dorsey. "We're going to continue to work with them and organize them."
Despite the protest, it will be business as usual at the Wealthy St. Jimmy John's Monday.
"We are not trying to hinder business," says Dorsey. "We hope at some point in the future these workers will be coming together along the same demands as the Minneapolis workers, but they will not close down shop and be out here with us."
WZZM attempted to contact a member of the Wealthy St. Jimmy John's management for comment, but our phone call wasn't returned.