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Snarf's Workers Rehired, Awarded Month's Back Pay in Deal with Management

 Former Snarf's employees with printouts of the email that fired the whole River North staff at a January protest in the Loop.
Former Snarf's employees with printouts of the email that fired the whole River North staff at a January protest in the Loop.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman

THE LOOP — Snarf's employees who were fired via email three days before Christmas say they've reached an agreement with the Colorado-based company to get their jobs back.

When the sandwich shop at 600 W. Chicago Ave. re-opens in mid-February after closing for nearly two months of renovations, all former employees will be offered their jobs back, according to Jill Preston, a spokeswoman for the company.

Preston said the deal inked late last week is "an agreement that both sides believe is fair" and said that it includes retroactive severance payments.

Still, she said not all employees are coming back.

"Some employees accepted reinstatement, while others chose not to," Preston said.

Workers received severance checks in the mail Monday, according to Deivid Rojas, a spokesman for the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago which staged protests against the firings at another Snarf's location in the Loop on Dec. 23 and Jan. 8.

"It’s good that we fought back," Snarf's River North employee Kevin Brown said at a demonstration Monday celebrating the agreement.

"I’m happy to get back pay and be offered reinstatement. We stood together and as a result we were able to resolve this in a good manner. It’s important because we can’t let employers get away with mistreating employees. When we take a stand together, we prove that we can hold employers accountable."

Working with terminated River North Snarf's employees, the workers' rights group rallied for support from customers of the Loop and River North sandwich shops, getting over 600 signatures on a petition to "demand justice for Snarf's workers."

On Dec. 24, Snarf's CEO Jim Seidel posted an apology on the company's Facebook page calling the firings "insensitive and poorly planned" and offering an additional week of back pay "as a token of our apology and in the holiday spirit."

After the first demonstration, Seidel issued a statement saying workers declined his offers for back pay and failed to "put any reasonable demands on the table." He called the recent protests "unfounded actions against us."

"Until this is resolved, we simply cannot pay the severance and feel it is inappropriate to comment any further," Seidel said in a statement then.

Preston confirmed Monday that a new agreement offered all former workers reinstatement, and that severance pay had already been issued.

"Gone are the times where employers of fast food workers can do whatever they want and just keep their heads down," Rojas said Monday. "I think Snarf's workers showed in Chicago that if you stand up and fight, and stand tall, you can win and find justice."