All-Out Support for the Justice 4 Jollibee Workers Campaign
BAYAN USA congratulates the workers of Jollibee in Journal Square, New Jersey for their recent campaign victories that have moved them closer and closer to a milestone win against corporate greed. After workers filed an unfair labor practice complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the NLRB responded by filing its own complaint against Jollibee after finding merit that the company had unlawfully terminated and retaliated against the workers. The NLRB’s action is a result of the tireless organizing and collective action of the Jollibee workers at Journal Square, as well as the broad network of support from both Filipino and non-Filipino communities.
BAYAN USA calls on the Filipino community and allies alike to support the Justice for Jollibee Workers Campaign’s month of action, leading up to October 11, the day Jollibee is set to appear in court for the case.
The class enemies behind Jollibee
Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) is a billion dollar business owned by Tony Tan Caktiong, the 5th richest person in the Philippines. Caktiong is unquestionably part of the class of big comprador bourgeoisie, one that makes its living from exploiting the resources of the Philippines — including labor — for the benefit of the imperialist market. In addition to its flagship fast food brand, JFC has also “diversified” its business ventures to other restaurants (such as Chowking, Red Ribbon, Smashburger, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), and even hotel chains. Their rapid business expansion comes from the exploitation of Filipino and non-Filipino workers alike.
In the Philippines, JFC was listed by the Department of Labor and Employment in 2018 as one of the companies with the most contractual employees, purposefully denying long-term contractual workers the right to job security and benefits. In the U.S., JFC-owned Smashburger was ordered to pay damages to 241 employees after being found to have violated New York City’s paid and sick leave laws.
A large factor in the aggressive growth of JFC is, in fact, the overseas expansion of Jollibee itself. Capitalizing off the forced migration of millions of Filipinos to every corner of the world, Caktiong has been able to profit off the nostalgia of OFWs and Filipinos in diaspora. In 2021, overseas markets contributed to around 40 percent of JFC’s overall revenue. And in 2022, almost one quarter of Jollibee’s revenues came from U.S. sales alone: $31 million out of $135 million. Even now, JFC has an aggressive plan to expand Jollibee by 500 stores in the next 5 to 7 years in North America.
These facts reveal how bold-faced of a lie the Jollibee Journal Square upper management team’s “reason” was for firing the workers: that the store was supposedly “losing money” and thus had to let workers go. In response to the NLRB’s complaint, Jollibee even admitted that it had actually made hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue over the past 12 months, before and during the terminations that happened in February this year.
As JFC celebrates its 45th anniversary with the theme “#JoyfulTogether”, it is clear that only comprador capitalists like Caktiong remain joyful, while the workers live in misery. Despite painting a picture of family between management and workers, the class interests of the capitalists and the workers are irreconcilable.
No help from the Philippine government
BAYAN USA also calls to question the inaction of the Philippine government in such a high profile case. Both the Department of Foreign Affairs through its Philippine Consul General in New York, as well as the Department of Migrants Workers through its U.S.-based Migrant Workers Offices, are charged with providing service and assistance to Philippine nationals facing employment-related complaints.
Yet there has not been even a single word from the government since the campaign went public in July. If the representatives of the Philippine government in the Northeast were in tune with our community, they would know that many of the workers at the Journal Square store — and many other locations, for that matter — are still Philippine passport-holders, and thus entitled to assistance. At the end of the day, it is no wonder why the government remains silent. The interests of the big comprador capitalist class are intertwined with those in political power.
Justice for Jollibee Workers!
The victories of the Jollibee Journal Square workers are proof that when workers unite, get organized and take action together to demand for higher wages, better working conditions, and an end to exploitative systems, change can happen. BAYAN USA encourages Filipino workers across the country to learn from and be inspired by their fight. We pledge to be there in support of the hundreds of other workers’ struggles for higher wages and better working conditions just waiting to be launched.
To the broad public, join us in conducting public education, gathering signatures, holding rallies, and releasing solidarity statements in support of the Jollibee workers. Let us continue uplifting their demands for reinstatement, back pay and compensation, a public apology, and for JFC to notify and inform workers of their rights in all stores. Beyond this current fight, let us also drum up the demand for a living wage and the right to organize for Jollibee workers in Journal Square and everywhere.
Justice for Jollibee Workers!
Get organized! Fight for higher wages and better working conditions!
Defend the right to organize! Defend workers rights!
The fight of Jollibee workers is the fight of the entire Filipino community!