Labor Board Ruling in Favor of Jimmy John’s Workers–A Big Win for Labor

by Eric M. Fink

In a win for labor, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge has ruled that management at a Minneapolis Jimmy John’s franchisee committed multiple unfair labor practices against workers involved in a union organizing effort. The judge ordered the company to reinstate and pay full back wages to six workers who were illegally fired, and to rescind written warnings that were illegally issued to three other workers.

The illegal firings and warnings came in the wake of a campaign by the Industrial Workers of World to organize workers at 10 Jimmy John’s stores operated by the francishee, MikLin Enterprises. In a representation election conducted by the NLRB in October 2010, employees narrowly voted against IWW representation by an 85-87 margin. However, after the IWW filed objections and unfair labor practice charges based on the employer’s pre-election conduct, the union and the company agreed to a settlement under which the IWW may seek a rerun election.

Continue reading

Starbucks’ Crackpot Solution to Jobs Crisis: Donate and Wear a Wristband

By Josh Eidelson

This month Starbucks launched its Create Jobs for USA initiative, the coffee chain’s official response to America’s unemployment crisis. In a press release, CEO Howard Schultz says the program gives customers the chance to “take meaningful action to help create and sustain American jobs.” “We hope this a galvanizing moment as Americans come together to be catalysts for change,” Schultz continues.

The program will no doubt boost Starbucks’ image—and the density of red white and blue wristbands across America. But jobs? Not so much.

Starbucks’ plan to tackle the nation’s massive jobs crisis is for you to donate money to a loan fund for “community businesses.” The fund, managed by a nonprofit called the Opportunity Finance Network, will make loans to small businesses, nonprofits and commercial real estate companies with the hope that the extra credit will free them up to hire more people. Starbucks is chipping in $5 million to “seed the project,” not quite one two-thousandth of its record-setting revenue from the past year.

The rest is up to you—though a $5 donation earns you that tri-color wristband. And, in the words of Starbucks’ promotional pamphlet, “when you wear it you are stating that you have done your part, a big part, to help get this country back on its feet.” Starbucks employees are especially encouraged to donate – though an wristband will cost them most of an hour’s pay. “Nice work America,” adds the pamphlet, “getting ourselves back to work again and again.” (A Starbucks spokesperson declined to comment for this article.)

But don’t expect to see economist Dean Baker sporting Starbucks’ flag-colored “Indivisible” wristband. Baker isn’t buying what Starbucks is selling, starting with its diagnosis of the jobs problem: Starbucks’ literature pins U.S. unemployment on a lack of financing for small businesses.

Continue reading

There’s a union buster in the house of labor

by Ron Moore

ronmooreThe New York Times is reporting that the Employee Free Choice Act is dead. The news that labor staffers serving as lobbyists for working people have been working out a deal to undermine the right to organize is not a surprise to those experienced in the movement. For years labor’s effectiveness as a force for change has been undermined by union staff members who have never worked for a living and have no real commitment to the movement; it’s only a job to them.

Continue reading

2008 Books on Labor

by Paul Garver

I’ve recently rediscovered the joys and pains of reading books, and have a few to recommend. My criteria for this list is that the book was published in 2008, that it had something to do with working people, and that I actually read it.

Two books high on my recommended list have already been favorable reviewed on this blog, Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin’s Solidarity Divided and David Bacon’s Illegal People. Both are indispensable.

Continue reading