Fast Food Worker Fired then Re-hired with the Help of Community Support
On Nov. 30, 200-plus fast food workers returned to their jobs with major support from the community after a historic strike against the fast food industry took place in New York City last week. Crowds of supporters walked along side strikers as they returned to their shifts to help prevent alienation or punishment from the fast food companies. And such was the case except for one employee who was fired from a Wendy’s located in East New York.
Sholanda Montgomery, a single mother working to make ends meet, participated in the one-day strike and, upon her return to work, was fired from the Fulton Mall Wendy’s for “absenteeism.” According to New York Daily News, her manager singled out Montgomery before fellow coworkers and strikers arrived to work. But, after a protest led by the efforts of strike organizers and City Councilman Jumaane Williams took place inside the restaurant where customers were urged to leave the restaurant as way of support, Montgomery was re-hired.
“We weren’t going to give up,” Sherry Jones, a member of New York Communities for Change, said in a New York Daily News article.
Under the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employees have the right to participate in activity outside a union as stated:
“Employees who are not represented by a union also have rights under the NLRA. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity”, which is when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment. A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.”
In reality, employers have fired employees under the radar for other “disciplinary reasons.” This loop hole leaves employees boggled down with “retaliation cases” that could take months if not years to settle in court all while being out of work or forced to take time off. The Fast Food Workers Committee has filed such various grievances with the NLRB against fast food companies for threats and retaliation bestowed on employees pre-strike.
Since Montgomery’s firing went public and was eventually reversed within hours, it is said that the community’s support is breaking ground in the Fast Food Forward Campaign. No other punishments have occurred since the one-day strike against the fast food industry. And in the minds of many activists, the community is the backbone for this ongoing campaign, not the law.