Staff at multiple locations of Vancouver-based chain Burgerville officially went on strike today, saying that the company is dragging its heels in cutting a contract with unionized workers.
Last week, the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) issued a statement saying workers would go on strike if the union did not reach a deal with Burgerville corporate by midnight October 18. In late September, the union provided a proposed contract to Burgerville corporate with that date as the deadline for the company to make an agreement with the union.
Today, the union announced that workers at the Convention Center, 92nd and Powell, Hawthorne, and Montavilla Burgerville locations walked off the job this morning, remaining on strike until they’ve “sufficiently demonstrated their strength to the company.”
The BVWU has been negotiating its contract with Burgerville for close to 18 months, with the union reportedly “frustrated with the slow pace” of bargaining since the first location (Powell) unionized in April 2018. Burgerville issued a statement to Eater saying it is still committed to negotiations, and highlighting the fact that a tipping system has already been implemented, and that staff will now be paid 1.5 times their regular pay on certain holidays including Labor Day and Fourth of July.
“We understand we are not meeting every employee’s expectations or needs. But we’re working on it. We continue to negotiate with the union in good faith, and we are working to meet all employees’ needs. As with everything we do at Burgerville, we’re putting people first.”
The union’s statement on the strike notes that it has made progress with Burgerville in some areas, including worker tips and holiday pay, but that the company is making few concessions in other areas. The main point of frustration is related to wages: The Burgerville Corporate side offered a wage increase that essentially amounts to an early adoption of legally mandated minimum wage.
Tensions between Burgerville and the union — the first fast-food union to gain federal recognition in the country — have been ongoing since staff at some of its locations first started pushing for a union in 2016. Earlier this year, workers at the Convention Center Burgerville accused the company of union-busting tactics, by handing down unusually harsh punishments to union-affiliated workers, such as allegedly suspending a worker who was eight months’ pregnant for leaving her nametag at home. Burgerville claimed that such incidents had no connection to union efforts.
Updated October 23, 2019, at 2 p.m.
This story has been updated to include the latest information about Burgerville’s strike.