For immediate release
February 5, 2015
Feds to prosecute fast food chain Au Bon Pain for alleged coercion, discrimination against workers at Philadelphia Airport
PHILADELPHIA — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel has issued a complaint against Au Bon Pain Corporation (ABP) for alleged violations of federal labor law. The complaint alleges that:
- ABP management, including CEO Susan Morelli, “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in … the [National Labor Relations] Act.”
- ABP CEO Susan Morelli personally attempted to “discourage its employees from seeking Union representation” in a mandatory meeting in September 2014.
- Au Bon Pain Regional Manager David Miller promised to give an employee money “in order to discourage the employee from engaging in Union activities.”
- ABP “has been discriminating in regard to the hire or tenure or conditions of employment of its employees, thereby discouraging membership in a labor organization.” The fast food company disciplined employees “1) because [they] were active employees in their support for the Union; and 2) to discourage other employees from supporting the union.”
“I was in tears after Au Bon Pain CEO Sue Morelli called us into a captive audience meeting. Here was the CEO of Au Bon Pain, who I never in my life thought I would meet, promising to fix all our troubles, when what she really cared about was trying to get us to stop organizing,” says Nacira Mellaz, a cashier with the fast food company at the Philadelphia Airport. “We felt bullied, insulted and frustrated. Now, it’s reassuring to know the government agrees with us and is taking Au Bon Pain to trial.”
The federal action comes amidst efforts by #strikefastfood, Fast Food Forward, and $15 Now to bring the issue of fast food jobs to the forefront of public consciousness. Au Bon Pain at Philadelphia Airport is the latest to join a long list of fast food companies that are being challenged by unions, students and politicians across the country.
“As a long-time advocate for our city’s airport workers, I am troubled by these charges,” said Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, “A world class airport requires a world class workforce. I know how hard these airport employees work to serve travelers and how they struggle to make ends meet. Businesses in our airport must appreciate workers’ right to be respected in the workplace.”
Au Bon Pain is scheduled to go to a hearing before an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board on April 13 in Philadelphia.
This organizing effort comes alongside No Bon Pain, a larger consumer education campaign led by UNITE HERE with the support of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Members of UNITE HERE, USAS, and other allies have leafleted at Au Bon Pain street locations in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City, as well as on college campuses across the country. For more information go to nobonpain.info.