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Jimmy John's Fast Food Workers Unionize

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on September 17, 2010 7:02 AM

Jimmy John's franchise, the sandwhich chain famous for well, sandwhiches, is making headlines for the recent unionization of many of it's full and part-time employees at nine Minneapolis locations. The newly formed union is part of the much larger Industrial Workers of the World, according to the News Gazette.

Union member David Boehnke explains the reason behind the fast food workers union: "We formed a union to fight for change, starting at Jimmy John's today, and throughout the entire fast food industry tomorrow." Jimmy John's workers have been picketing outside of various store locations since labor day. Specifically, the Jimmy John's union is seeking improvements in workers' compensation, fair scheduling, liveable wages, raises, and paid sick days.

So what does it mean to join a union? Although there are many reasons that a group of workers would choose to form a union, one of the biggest reasons has to do with a better negotiating position. A union, which represents the interests of many workers, has more leverage than an individual would when presenting his or her greivances to a company. The National Labor Relations Act covers the right to form a union (with a few notable exceptions), as well as the collective bargaining process. Collective bargaining simply refers to the actual negotiation process between a union representative and an employer.

Unions are relatively rare in the fast food industry, which is why the Jimmy John's union is grabbing so much national attention. With close to 1,000 stores across the country, it will be intersting to see whether more Jimmy John's, and other fast food workers will form a union. The answer to this may depend on the success of the current Jimmy John's negotiations.

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