Snarf’s, a national fast food chain based out of Colorado promptly fired the staff of its 600 W. Chicago Ave location Sunday—via email and just three days before Christmas.
The email, sent by director of operations, Doug Besant, is laid out in an eight part numerical list—citing “company losses” and “increased competition” as well as the location’s decision to partake in “remodeling” and “reconcepting” as its reasoning to close shop; however, many workers believe that this decision was made in retaliation of their efforts to unionize.
On December 5th, employees of the 600 W. Chicago store went on strike as part of the Fight for 15 campaign— a national labor union organizing service industry employees to demand livable wages and improved working conditions.
Just eighteen days after the strike—and three days before Christmas—all twenty of these pro-union employees are jobless. Kevin Brown, a key orchestrator of the strike says “it seems very suspicious we were fired in this manner.”
Brown went on to elaborate his loyal service to Snarf’s and the distress that the company’s decision has caused for himself and his coworkers, as well as customers: “I have worked at Snarf’s for two and a half years. My coworkers and I gave much loyalty to this company. We worked hard and made this store a success. For Snarf’s to then abruptly fire us is a terrible move, both for us as employees and for their customers.”
Almost immediately after Besant’s email was sent, Brown was in contact with the FF15 campaign, and by 9 AM Monday morning Brown and his coworkers were sitting in at the 600 W. Chicago store alongside 40 other additional friends, family members, union industry workers from other fast food chains, and organizers from the Fight for 15 campaign—demanding the manager of the store to call corporate and ask them to reinstate these positions and give the workers severance pay while the planned remodeling and “reconcepting” transpires.
After stating their demands to the manager of the 600 W. Chicago location and passing out flyers, the protesters headed to the Snarf’s Prudential Plaza storefront at 180 N. Steston Ave to carry their message to their sister location, and encourage customers to rethink their decision to shop Snarf’s.
Snarf’s has since told media that former employees of 600 W. Chicago will have the option to reapply for positions after the indefinite remodeling takes place, but Brown says this was never stated in the email he and his coworkers received.
While the future of these twenty industry workers remains uncertain, Brown asserts that he has no regrets in his efforts to organize: “The lesson is not that we shouldn’t have organized; we need to organize MORE! The lesson is that Snarf’s made a terrible decision by firing all of us, and we’re going to take action.”