The Burgerville Workers Union (BWVU) has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Burgerville with the National Labor Relations Board, according to a press release. The charges are in reaction to Burgerville banning employees from wearing buttons on the job, after multiple employees sported badges championing Black Lives Matters and anti-ICE sentiments.
The union issued a statement, saying that it’s not only the forced removal of the buttons, but the fact that corporate had stated in union contract negotiations that they would have discussions before issuing policies like it. “This is particularly distasteful to the BVWU, not only because it is fundamentally wrong and unethical to side against workers taking anti-racist action, but because at the most recent contract negotiation session, corporate promised to work with the union on any future button policy,” the statement reads.
The BVWU points to right-wing news sources stirring controversy and outrage about the buttons as a potential cause for Burgerville’s hastily implemented policy, saying, “When right wing anti-worker news sites, including Fox News and Breitbart, stoked outrage over the story online, Burgerville corporate panicked at the swell of negative and often racist online comments, and announced a unilateral reinstatement of the button ban.”
Burgerville issued a public statement echoing some of its past, also implying that the National Labor Relations Board shouldn’t have jurisdiction over this particular issue, considering the main conflict took place at the Montavilla Burgerville — employees voted to unionize at two specific Burgerville locations, not including Montavilla. A portion of the statement is listed below:
Burgerville has had a long-standing, unwritten uniform policy that prohibits any non-Burgerville buttons, except for buttons protected by NLRB rights. Montavilla Burgerville has not had an election of employees overseen by the NLRB and is not recognized by the NLRB as a part of the collective bargaining between Burgerville and the Industrial Workers of the World, Portland Chapter, d.b.a Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU). The BVWU represents workers at two Burgerville locations, Gladstone and SE 92nd & Powell.
The statement goes on to emphasize the button ban’s scope, which includes personal buttons as well as political buttons:
On August 22, Burgerville began to administer its long-standing unwritten policy with crew members at the Montavilla location. The employees felt the policy was premature and didn’t provide enough clarification about what would be included. They asked if they were wearing a “Black Lives Matter” button if they would have to take it off; they were told yes. They asked if they were wearing a “Breast Cancer Awareness” or “Pokémon” button if they would have to take it off; they were told yes.
Eater has reached out to the National Labor Relations Board regarding this particular complaint. Stay tuned.
Update: September 13, 2018, 2:28 p.m.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Burgerville, USA.