Days before Christmas, sub shop abruptly fires all employees by - New York News

Days before Christmas, sub shop abruptly fires all employees by email

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Workers at a local fast-food outlet joined a one-day strike last August, called by a union trying to organize the low-paid. The workers did it again December 5th. Then on Monday, they were all fired.

A sign outside promised, "World's Finest Sandwiches," but inside, Snarf's was empty Monday. A much smaller sign explained it would re-open early next year with a new concept--perhaps some variation of the burger joint now featured on the Colorado-based company's website.

18-year-old sandwich maker Kevin Brown, who was paid $10 an hour, is among 18 workers who may not be part of whatever the shop becomes.

"We found out through an e-mail last night at 5 o'clock that the store was closing for some sort of remodeling, re-concepting," Brown explains. "It was left very vague. And that we were all fired. There wasn't any indication that we would get our jobs back, or get any severance pay."

It's not what many low-wage workers expected last summer when they joined a one-day strike in Chicago and several other cities, called by the Workers Organizing Committee.

The Service Employees International Union and others are paying for the organizing drive to sign up new union members in an effort to reverse a long-term decline in economic clout.

For those at Snarf's, the one-day walkout in August went well. The store's managers kept the place open and Kevin Brown said that, a few days afterwards, he got a $1-an-hour raise. The one-day December 5th strike, though, did force the sandwich shop to close. And workers were stunned when Snarf's stayed shut down for three more days.

"Hopefully they can get the ball rolling and get these people back in there, because that's a great place," one customer told FOX 32.

Former customers said they sympathized with the workers, but some suggested there might be a limit.

"People would be sympathetic to the workers until the sandwich prices go up," Doug Polignano said. "Once you're going from 8 bucks a sandwich to 10 bucks a sandwich, then people are either gonna not sympathetic or not buy sandwiches."

The email sent by the store's owners to the workers who were fired made no reference to the union activism or the two one-day strikes. It did reference competition and economic losses as the reason for the shop closing.

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