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Jimmy John's Workers Vote Against Unionizing

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The employees of 10 Twin Cities Jimmy John's sandwich shops voted down a union Friday, which would have bargained for better pay and working conditions.

The vote was closely watched by representatives of the National Labor Relations Board, who counted and verified the ballots. Out of 204 eligible voters, 85 voted for the union and 87 against it -- with two challenged ballots.

"Because the challenged ballots would not affect the outcome (the union needs a majority to win) the union lost and results are final," stated the NLRB.

Earlier this fall, 60 percent of the Jimmy John's workers voted to push the matter to an official ballot to decide if they want union representation.

For weeks now, disgruntled workers at Minneapolis Jimmy John's locations have been pounding the streets and parading in protest. They've waged a very public campaign to win the right to unionize the 10 privately owned fast food shops.

Nate Moshe is a delivery worker with the downtown store.

"They're all kind of angry and that's why this is happening because they're not very happy with their jobs," said Moshe.

Under the watchful eyes of the NLRB, the election could have made these workers among the first in the country to give the minimum wage, part-time workers, the collective power to bargain with management.

Franchise owner, Mike Mulligan believes the group of union organizers is simply out to bring somebody in the industry down, and his shops happen to be first on the list.

Organizers said they're simply demanding better pay, scheduling and working conditions.

"I'm hoping it goes very well. I'm excited and I feel like we're making history hopefully," said employee Brittany Koppy.

According to Professor John Budd, a labor expert with the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, "It's really hard to find any fast food restaurants that are unionized."

Professor Budd said the vote is just the first step. He said even if it would have been approved there's no certainty of negotiating pay and work improvements in a contract.

"This could potentially have broader ramifications. Other unions could use this with other workers saying if they can take better control of their working lives, then you can too," said Budd.

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