Labor board judge rules against Jimmy John's

Michael P. Tremoglie Apr. 26, 2012, 7:20am

MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - The National Labor Relations Board announced Tuesday that Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan has ruled that a Jimmy John's sandwich shop franchise illegally fired six employees.

The franchise was also found to have illegally issued written warnings to three others who took part in a campaign complaining about the sick leave policy. The six had complaints filed on their behalf by the Industrial Workers of the World, which has been campaigning to unionize all the JJ shops.

The company, Milkin Enterpises, Inc., operates 10 sandwich shops in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Amchan's Friday decision orders the company to offer reinstatement to the fired workers, rescind the written warnings, and post notices at all its shops.

The IWW was organized in 1905 and included among its charter members Eugene Debs, "Mother" Jones, and "Big BIll" Haywood. Among its most famous current members are Noam Chomsky and Tom Morello of the band Rage Against the Machine. The organization has approximately 5,000 members.

Amchan is a prolific author of many books of American historical figures. He considers Robert La Follette an American hero.

Initially, the NLRB Minneapolis office conducted a unionization election in October 2010. The union was rejected. However, the union filed unfair labor practice complaints alleging the company manipulated the unionization election. The employer and union entered into an agreement for another election after 18 months.

Employees requested Milkin to provide paid sick leave in March 2011 and change a policy requiring employees find replacements when they are unable to work their shifts. Milkin declined and employees posted notices near the Milkin shops warning customers that their sandwiches could be made by ill employees.

Some of the notices were removed by the company and soon afterwards the employees were fired and written warnings issued to the others. Armchan ruled that the employees' activity was protected because it was part of a labor dispute. He declared the languages and images used did not cause the employees to lose their protection.

The judge ordered back pay and other benefits in addition to reinstatement.

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