The time has officially run out: Employees of local fast-food chain Burgerville are poised to be the country’s first officially recognized fast-food union. On Monday, the employee-fronted Burgerville Workers Union issued BV corporate an ultimatum: recognize the union and discuss its demands, or it would file with the National Labor Relations Board for a government-administered election. Now that the deadline is up, workers at the 92nd and Powell branch are prepared to do just that later today.
After filing, the members of the store would vote in April whether to force Burgerville corporate to recognize the union or not. Burgerville employee and union spokesperson Mark Medina told Eater he was confident the election would be a success, and that it would spread to the other Burgerville stores, many of which have members in the union. “An overwhelming majority of [the Powell store’s] workers are with the union,” he said. “We will elect the union.”
When asked if corporate would comply with the demands and recognize the union before it went to vote, he added, “I think there’s exactly zero percent chance of them doing that.” The demands include a $5 an hour raise, better health care, and protection for undocumented workers.
The Burgerville Workers Union was formed two years ago by employees, and has yet to be recognized by corporate. The union does not require dues, though that may change down the line. Membership is entirely voluntary and is set to remain so even if Burgerville recognizes it. The ultimatum to corporate is only the union’s most recent move, as workers went on strike earlier this year and called for a boycott.
Speaking for the union, Medina made it clear that it was about more than just their own wellbeing. “I’m excited that history is going to be made because some scrappy workers got together and were the forefront of their own movement,” he says. “Poverty wages are awful. They are not good for people, not good for the community or for the economy, and it’s high time we end this practice.”
Beth Brewer, Senior VP of Operations at Burgerville, said in a statement that the company would comply with the National Labor Relations Board’s decision, writing, “Burgerville respects the right of every employee to support or not support the organization of a union. If there is enough support, we anticipate they will file a petition with the NLRB. Burgerville will abide by the NLRB’s decision and guidance.”
- Burgerville [Official Site]
- Burgerville Workers Union [Official Site]
- Burgerville Workers Union Gives Corporate 48 Hours to Recognize Its Existence [The Portland Mercury]
- Burgerville Workers on Strike for Higher Wages and Better Treatment [EPDX]