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PORTSIDE  October 2010, Week 3

PORTSIDE October 2010, Week 3

Subject:

Rare Vote Set On a Union In Fast Food

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 21:07:08 -0400

Content-Type:

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text/plain (74 lines)

Rare Vote Set On a Union In Fast Food

By Steven Greenhouse
New York Times
October 21, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/business/21union.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

MINNEAPOLIS - The Jimmy John's restaurants here are
known for serving attitude with their sandwiches. Many
of their young workers wear nose rings, beards and
dreadlocks, and the shops sport mottoes like "The
Customer Is Usually Right" and "Subs So Fast You'll
Freak."

But recently, the employees at the 10 shops here have
started to exude more attitude than management would
like. Some of the 200 workers wear T-shirts that say,
"Wages So Low You'll Freak," and many are backing a
campaign to unionize the shops, which compete with
Subway and Quiznos.

The unionization drive is one of the few efforts to
organize fast-food workers in American history.
Employees will vote Friday, and if the union wins,
organizers say they will seek to unionize fast-food
workers in other cities.

The issues that have roused the Jimmy John's workers
are typical of what many low-end service-sector workers
face: earning the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage or
slightly above that, working unpredictable and often
short shifts and dealing with their bosses' wrath when
they call in sick.

Most unions have shied away from trying to organize
fast-food workers because the employees tend to be
young, with high turnover. But that has not dissuaded
the Industrial Workers of the World, which tried to
organize workers at Starbucks coffee shops without
success.

A century ago, the I.W.W. - better known as the
Wobblies - was a swaggering, radical union with 100,000
members and legendary leaders like Mary Harris Jones
(known as Mother Jones) and Big Bill Haywood. The union
often clashed with police officers and Pinkerton
security guards as it organized lumberjacks,
dockworkers and miners.

These days, the Wobblies have just 1,600 members in the
United States, and have union contracts with a handful
of employers. But if they can flex their muscles
anywhere, it may be in organizing the Jimmy John's
workers of Minneapolis. Union supporters say more than
60 percent of the workers signed cards asking for a
unionization election.

[Keep reading this article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/business/21union.html?_r=1&emc=eta1]

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