U.S. NLRB says Jollibee engaged in ‘unfair labor practice,’ sets Oct 11 hearing

The July 6 protest in front of the Journal Square branch in Jersey City. Photo: Justice for Jollibee Workers

The National Labor Relations Board is opening an investigation into the Jollibee labor issue. It has scheduled a hearing on October 11 at 9:30 a.m. where both parties — the dismissed workers who say they were “illegally terminated”  and Jollibee management — will present testimony before an administrative law judge.

The hearing will take place at the NLRB office at 20 Washington Place in Newark, New Jersey.

A copy of the complaint and notice of hearing states that on February 11, 2023, Jollibee managers (referred to in the document as “Respondent’s employees”) in the Journal Square location had a meeting at a buffet lunch restaurant. During the meeting, the managers Kurt Dominguez, Crisian Simon, Rose Jane Francisco, and Merle Caleon, “viewed” a petition and an employees group chat regarding the employees “demanding wage increases and other improvements to their terms and conditions of employment.”

Around February 20, Respondent Merle Caleon, discharged nine employees. Caleon is identified in the complaint as Director of Operations.

The NLRB states that “by the conduct described above…Respondent has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the (NLRA) Act” which protects employees’ rights to self-organization.

Respondent, Honeybee Food Corporation also known as Jollibee, is described in the complaint as a “California corporation with principal office and place of business located in West Covina, California, with other locations throughout the United States, including a Journal Square, Jersey City, New Jersey location…It is engaged in the business of preparation and retail sale of food.”

Workers’ letter to Jollibee Journal Square management stating their demands.

“The NLRB filing a complaint affirms the charges that we put forward,” said former Jollibee worker Mary Taino in a statement. “Our rights to organize have been violated and there is more than enough evidence to prove it. I believe justice will be served because we have the facts to prove it. We encourage Jollibee workers to voice your concerns. Don’t let big corporations like Jollibee frighten you. We only want a better workplace for everyone.”

Another former worker, Patricia Bui, said: “Our voices may not be heard by Jollibee, but we are getting the support of other workers, our communities, and the NLRB. We hope that other Jollibee workers to follow our footsteps and have the courage to speak out for your rights.”

According to the Justice for Jollibee Workers comprising dismissed workers who organized the July 6 protest in front of the Journal Square location, Jollibee hired 13 workers within a month of firing the nine workers. This, they said,  “discredits(ing) claims that the company is experiencing financial woes.”

The NLRB urged Jollibee to “send a letter of apology in English and Tagalog”    on Respondent’s letterhead and signed by its General Manager, Rose Jane Francisco, to the dismissed employees with a courtesy copy sent to their Regional Director.

Further, it is  requiring Jollibee to “cease and desist from engaging in the unfair labor practices alleged (in the complaint)  and seeks all other relief as may be just and proper to remedy the unfair labor practices alleged.”

The complaint was issued by Julie L. Kaufman, acting regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, Region 22 on August 24. — Cristina DC Pastor

© The FilAm 2023

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