SEATTLE - Merlee Sherman delivers sandwiches for Jimmy John's. She likes the job and wants to move up in the company, but says she couldn't.
“I have previous management experience coming into management at Jimmy John's there is not mobility for me to receive better pay at another Jimmy John's,” she said at a news conference with Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Jimmy John's is one of many fast food chains that have what are called “no poach” agreements among regional franchisees.
“Most employees have no idea that these “no poach” agreements exist that limit their ability to take their skills to another Arby’s for example,” Ferguson said.
He says that violates Washington's anti-trust law.
“That's a rigged system that keeps you right where you are and limits your options.”
Now seven local fast food chains have agreed to stop the practice, under threat of a lawsuit from the Attorney General’s Office. They are Arby's, Auntie Anne's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl's Junior, Cinnabon and Jimmy John's.
McDonald's also signed on, but in a statement they said they ended the practice in early 2017. Now Ferguson is offering other chains the same deal.
“Companies can either get on board with that or they will face litigation.”
Merlee is now looking forward to upward mobility.
“Those of us who work in the food industry should be paid not only livable wages, but we should be able to transfer our love and our skills.”
Attorney General Ferguson says the agreements require companies to stop their “no poach” practice not only in Washington state, but nationwide.
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