Potbelly Sandwich spent $100k to fight union


Potbelly Sandwich Shop in downtown Portland paid almost $100,000 for about a month of union-busting. That’s according to mandatory disclosures the anti-union consulting firm filed March 23 with the U.S. Department of Labor. 

According to the disclosures, Potbelly hired Optimal Employee Relations of Henderson, Nevada, on May 10, 2023, about a month before workers voted 9-6 on June 15 to join the independent union Restaurant Workers of Portland. Optimal’s contract with Potbelly ended in June 2023. Potbelly paid Optimal $97,722 on June 15 — the same day as the union election.

At Potbelly, workers still don’t have a first contract. Mark Medina, a Portland Jobs with Justice staff person who helped with the campaign, said shortly after the election the company fired three workers who led the union campaign. An unfair labor practice charge is still pending review by the National Labor Relations Board. 


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