“Turkey Tom, extra cheese. Watch out, I’m about to sneeze.”
Roughly 25 Jimmy John’s employees and union supporters picketed outside of the Cedar-Riverside Jimmy John’s Thursday. Picketers crowded the door and told customers not to go in the shop, angering the location’s management.
The picket was part of the union’s campaign for paid sick days and also in response to the firings of seven core union members last week.
Union members filed an unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board after the firings and submitted their affidavits Thursday.
Mike Wilklow, one of the employees fired, said he felt the group had a strong case but that it could take either a month or up to a year to hear if the employee’s jobs will be reinstated.
Wilklow and six others were fired for passing out posters claiming Jimmy John’s customers were at risk of food-borne illness because employees have trouble getting time off when sick. “Besides medical services, the food industry is one of the most obvious places where you don’t want people working sick,” Wilklow said.
Franchise owners MikLin Enterprises said the fired employees had disparaged the brand and showed a lack of loyalty to the company.
“They’ve gone way out of bounds on what should be allowed,” franchise owner Rob Mulligan said. “They’ve made us out to be greedy, corporate bastards, when that’s not true at all.”
If the franchise were to give in to all of the union’s demands, including paid sick days, Mulligan said it would cost the franchise more than four times as much as it made in profits last year.
Mulligan also emphasized that the company has a strong commitment to food safety and a professional philosophy of treating its employees well.