Unionization vote a close call

On Friday, Jimmy John’s employees voted against unionization 87-85.

Davis Ritsema hugs David Boehnke after hearing the results of a vote held Friday in Block E in downtown Minneapolis. Employees from 10 Jimmy John’s franchises voted 87 to 85 against unionizing their workforce.

Davis Ritsema hugs David Boehnke after hearing the results of a vote held Friday in Block E in downtown Minneapolis. Employees from 10 Jimmy John’s franchises voted 87 to 85 against unionizing their workforce.

Jennifer Bissell

Employees at a Minneapolis Jimmy JohnâÄôs franchise voted against unionization by just two votes Friday in a National Labor Relations Board election.

Had the vote passed, Rob and Mike Mulligan, owners of the 10-store franchise, would have been legally required to negotiate with the self-assembled Industrial Workers of the World Jimmy JohnâÄôs Workers Union.

The final tally was 87 to 85, with two challenged ballots.

“Obviously we have to meet as a union now and discuss the plan on moving forward,” employee and JJWU member Ayo Collins said.

Since early September, the group has been fighting for better scheduling, health care, sick days, higher wages and compensation for job-related injuries. Franchise owners had refused to negotiate with the union, stating it was not representative of all workers despite the unionâÄôs affiliation with the recognized Industrial Workers of the World Union.

“I quite honestly donâÄôt think they voted against the union,” Collins said. “I think we had a tie, and that was with about $100,000 paid by the company to bust our union.”

Employees of Jimmy JohnâÄôs have claimed the franchise owners violated the National Labor Relations Act with union-busting techniques at least 22 times.

Members of the Jimmy JohnâÄôs union said in multiple press releases that managers have distributed threatening letters, called employees into irregular one-on-one meetings, used physical intimidation, offered bribes, threatened mass firings and made concessions to individual workers regarding wages and scheduling.

“We are extremely disappointed with the companyâÄôs conduct in this matter; rather than simply letting us vote, management chose to break the law repeatedly during the last six weeks,” employee and union member Erik Forman said in a statement. “We do not recognize these election results as legitimate and will continue to fight for our demands.”

The NLRB will investigate the claims, IWW representative Erik Davis said. If found guilty, the franchise could be fined, forced to rehire fired employees or be required to follow specific rulings on what managers can and cannot do in the future.