Labor organizers fighting for better wages, hours for Subway restaurant workers


MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Subway employees at the state’s rest areas say they are not getting paid what they should. Today, their cause got some support from the labor organizers attempting to unionize them.

Those organizers from SEIU 32BJ were outside the Global headquarters of Subway in Milford Thursday morning handing out leaflets to support sandwich makers at the state’s rest areas.

“Those are the workers who are exposed every day to the coronavirus, that had worked during the worst pandemic,” said SEIU 32BJ district leader Alberto Bernardez.

He says, however, that they are not getting the standard wage set by the state. For years, SEIU has been trying to unionize rest area workers to ensure better hours, wages, and benefits.

Earlier this year, the Connecticut Department of Labor recovered almost $900,000 for workers at several rest area McDonald’s. That came after a yearlong investigation into wage disparities. An investigation with which those McDonald’s franchises cooperated.

“McDonald’s did the right thing, Subway hasn’t,” Bernardez said.

The union organizers tried a similar leafletting campaign a couple of weeks ago with some of the workers from the rest stops. They say the corporation called the police on them, even though they were on the public sidewalk like they were Thursday. The organizers say that was an intimidation tactic by Subway, and they say that is why no actual Subway workers were joining them this second time.

“They told them if they come back over here, they would be arrested,” Bernardez said. “That was the exact word that they used.”

No arrests actually happened, but union leaders decided to try again on behalf of the workers.

“These are workers that we are trying to help organize for respect in the workplace and to help them get the equipment that they need to stay safe,” said Bernardez.

They are essential workers, who stayed on the job all through the pandemic. Most are minorities, as well.

“Subway, you hear them saying that they support Black lives. they don’t because those workers are being left in the cold.”

Meaning the fight is about both of the year’s biggest stories: The pandemic and racial equality.

News 8 reached out to Subway for comment. You can read the official statement from the company below:

“We are in contact with our Franchisee to understand the facts surrounding these claims as each Subway restaurant is individually owned and operated.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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