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More Portland Food Service Workers Are Taking Action Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

Burgerville workers on 92nd Avenue went on strike yesterday over working conditions


Yesterday, every employee at the SE 92nd Avenue Burgerville location went on a one-day strike to protest what they claim are unsafe working conditions related to the coronavirus outbreak. The shop re-opened today, and almost 40 of Burgerville’s other locations remain open, but the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) has issued a list of requirements during this pandemic.

The strike was largely in protest of a reduced staff making it difficult to maintain sanitation standards and protect workers. While Burgerville locations are open for drive-through customers, all of its dining rooms have been closed, and a press release from the company states that nearly 70-percent of workers have been furloughed or partially furloughed. “How can we keep people safe with a skeleton crew?” Mark Medina, an employee at the 92nd Avenue location, says. “Maintaining sanitation standards takes a lot of work. Burgerville corporate claims to care about the community, but, by cutting costs like this, they’re putting us all at risk. People could die.”

Union representative Emmett Schlenz also noted that management has not provided adequate guidelines on how workers could maintain social distancing practices while working in close proximity with each other.

The BVWU issued demands to the company yesterday, including a $2 an hour raise for hazard pay, two weeks severance in the case of lay offs, and an additional two weeks of paid sick time to allow workers to stay at home if they fall ill — the union calls it “2-2-2.” Burgerville has not issued a statement on the demands nor responded to Eater’s request for a statement as of the time of publication.

This isn’t the first action taken by a restaurant union in the last week — earlier, laid-off workers from Crush Bar staged a sit-in to receive payment accrued PTO hours, while workers at Voodoo Doughnut announced last week the creation of their union.