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

Demonstrators Outside of Eastown Jimmy John's

Demonstrators Outside of Eastown Jimmy John's /Nick Manes

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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.

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 ...but where is my sandwich!


Seriously though, I like that you give a little press time to the underdog.


A few ideas to ponder for the reader:

How about some discussion of Union activity affecting the cost of doing business? Like how the UAW's involvement in the big 3 makes for better working conditions for the factory employees, but the consumer ends up paying more than your average car is really worth. 

would we see a similar thing in this kind of situation? The fast food business is a pretty profit tight margin already (i'm not defending the poor defenseless fast food corporations!)

Also, another thought, what about the local business owner who just pays franchise fees and takes the corporate crap stuffed down his throat? 



re: Scott's comment above: the person who buys a franchise is PURCHASING that "corporate crap" and is deliberately shunning the option of starting an independent shop.  Owners of franchises typically want a "store in box" model where everything's been predetermined--so I wouldn't have a lot of sympathy for the hypothetical small owner who wants the benefits of the franchise but not the "negatives" (such as if JJ's were to unionize). Very Little Red Hen!

I have totally been wanting to here about this since Mike Saunders said something to me about it. You have truley delivered a good story.

"You'll only be the boss so long as you pay my wage..." -- Elvis Costello

Seriously, I'm not sure what you expect from a low-skill job? If you want more money and benefits you have to make yourself a rarer commodity; anybody can make a sandwich.

If the store mostly employes students it's because they haven't graduated yet. Unless Jimmy Johns is your career choice I just can't see them really demanding a union, much less succeeding at it.

Thanks for that news.It isn't exactly a secret that fewer people are earning a great living nowadays, as wages have been trending downward for basically the past decade. It's bad news for not only the wallet, but for health also, as a number of low wage health results are being mentioned in studies. Pay for your things while taking a sick day with a personal finance.