Sandwich shop employees may join a union

A deli worker makes trays of sandwiches at a delicatessen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.


JEREMY HOBSON: Today workers at some Jimmy John's sandwich shops are voting whether to unionize. If it's a yes, they'll become the first U.S. fast food workers to do so. Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.

EVE TROEH: Two hundred workers from Jimmy John's restaurants around Minneapolis will decide if they want to join the International Workers of the World.

MAX SPECKTOR: I am voting yes.

Max Specktor delivers sandwiches by bicycle. He says when business is slow, he's sent home. So he never knows how much money he'll make. He says other delivery guys have the same issue, so...

SPECKTOR: Instead of all splitting up and trying to get better jobs we'd just come together and organize.

BEN MCCARTHY:Collective bargaining, I dunno it's not for me.

Ben McCarthy's been with Jimmy John's about four years. He's a no. He thinks unions are for big companies with better jobs.

MCCARTHY:I don't think this is a career type job.

Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein says this vote could start to change that the way unionizing transformed longshoremens' work decades ago.

NELSON LICHTENSTEIN: This was the work of bums, drunkards, outlaws, etc. Well, longshore work today is the best paid, blue-collar work in America with stead jobs and high pay.

I'm Eve Troeh, for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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