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“I’ll be honest, I love Subway’s sandwiches,” said Michelle standing outside of the 8th and Olive Subway holding her umbrella. “I eat there all the time, but not anymore. I can’t believe they fired a striking worker. That’s wrong.”
She wasn’t alone.
Customers going to downtown Subways during the all important lunch rush were confronted with a choice as community members and workers stood outside with a large banner with a simple message across it - “Strike Back Against Retaliation. Boycott Subway.”
Subway fired a striking worker, Carlos Hernandez, after he helped lead a citywide fast food workers’ strike. Now he, his former co-workers and community members are speaking out in response.
Carlos came out to talk to potential customers the entire week during the lunch rush handing out fliers and telling his story.
“I want my job back to show my co-workers they don’t have to be afraid,” he said talking to a customer who eventually decided not to go into Subway. “I went out on strike for better pay and better working conditions not only for me, but for them too. Subway didn’t like that, but we have to stand up for our rights no matter what.”
One customer, Anne, came up to us in front of the 3rd and Union Subway with something to tell us.
“I got your flyer yesterday,” she said. “I made my own sandwich today.”
Duane, a man sporting an over-sized jacket, grey hair and a wooden cane, came over to the boycott action when he saw the banner.
“You all got my support.100%,” he said shaking the hand of a community member holding the banner. “I’ve been through plenty of boycotts and they all come down to one thing, discipline. So stay strong, keep at it.”
“There is discrimination that can only be stopped by hitting them where it hurts,” Duane continued. “The pocket. I’m telling everybody not to eat at Subway.”
The Atlantic, August 29th: Why the fast food strikes are doomed:
But sympathy and optimism are two separate things. And when it comes to the fast-food worker strikes and dramatically raising wages for food service employees, I’m only feeling the former.
The Atlantic, October 11th: A Win for McJobs: Seattle’s Mayoral Candidates Both Support a $15 Minimum Wage
Even in a city as far to the left as Seattle, a $15 minimum wage would have seemed preposterous not long ago. After the fast-food worker strikes—and both mayoral candidates voiced their support for the strikers back in June—it’s now within the realm of acceptable conversation.
Subway thought it could get away with retaliating against its workers — But we showed them that we wouldn’t stand for it. Workers, community supporters, and fellow activists all came out to stand up for workers rights and strike back against retaliation. Watch the footage of our pickets that effectively shut down several Subway stores around Seattle, then pledge to boycott Subway until they do the right thing and give Carlos his job back.
Subway fired Carlos Hernandez after he helped lead a citywide fast food strike. Then they tried to blame it on a 66 cent cookie.
Retaliation is wrong and we’re not going to let them get away with it: if Subway won’t give Carlos his job back, they won’t get our business.
Send an email directly to the Subway franchise owner who fired Carlos, and tell him you will boycott Subway until he stops retaliating and gives Carlos his job back.
Carlos and his coworkers know he wasn’t fired over a cookie. Just days before he was fired, a manager told him to stop “rabble rousing.” Other workers were told they shouldn’t talk to Carlos anymore. It’s pretty obvious that this was retaliation, and the 66 cent cookie was just a convenient excuse.
Click here to send an email to the Subway franchise owner who fired Carlos — and to Subway Corporate. Tell them you are going to boycott Subway until Carlos gets his job back.
Subway is already feeling the pressure.
We’ve picketed outside of numerous Subway locations owned by the same major franchise owner who retaliated against Carlos, essentially shutting down the lunch rush. We filed federal charges against both the franchise owner and Subway Corporate. We even took our pickets to the pages of Yelp.
And now we are calling for a boycott of Subway until Carlos gets his job back.
“I heard about this Subway thing from my local paper in Bremerton,” said Cory, who had come to Seattle for the picket line near Pike Place Market. “I had to come out here. My granddaughter works at Subway and I’d hate for her to have to put up with this mistreatment. Subway needs to respect its workers and give Carlos his job back.”
Subway fired a striking worker, Carlos, a week after he helped lead a city wide fast food worker strike. In response, the community has created an online petition, given one star reviews on Yelp and taken our message to the streets — six different Subway stores in less than a week.
From the Broadway Subway up on Capitol Hill, the Subway across from the Olive 8 hotel, the Subway at Pike Place Market, to the local headquarters of this chain of Subways at the corner of Denny and Fairview, the pickets have brought the lunch rush at the sandwich maker to a screeching halt.
Customers saw our picket, read the information and turned away – siding with the workers instead of the corporate footlong maker.
A worker wearing a traffic caution vest refused to cross the picket line. “I ain’t eating no scab sandwiches!”
A trio entered the Subway after grabbing a leaflet, read it and then all walked out of the store shaking their heads and giving thumbs up to the crowd.
A man wearing a Sounders knit cap with the Subway logo emblazoned on it, took a flier explaining the situation, stopped and talked with us, pulled out a camera and then refused to eat at Subway.
A crew of construction workers walking up from a job a few blocks away saw the picket line, read the information and turned away, seeking lunch elsewhere.
The community support has been overwhelming and the local media has taken notice as well.
TV cameras from KIRO, KOMO and KING 5 showed up at the various pickets talking to the workers and community members who came out in support of Carlos and his fellow workers. News articles flew off the pages in The Stranger, The Puget Sound Business Journal, KPLU, The Stand, Salon and The Capitol Hill Blog.
“I’m just so grateful for all this support,” said Carlos into a TV camera. “I’m out here because Subway thinks they can keep me quiet and keep its workers down. They can’t. They won’t. We are going to keep fighting for better pay and the right to organize without retaliation. I’ll keep talking to my co-workers, the bosses and anyone who will listen.”