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Voodoo Doughnut Workers Have Voted to Officially Unionize

The victory is the latest step in the workers’ years-long effort to secure workplace protections

A line of people are wrapped around a building where Voodoo Doughnuts is located.
Voodoo Doughnuts’ Old Town shop.
Jakub Zajic via Shutterstock
Janey Wong is Eater Portland's reporter.

Employees of the Old Town Voodoo Doughnut location are now a part of a federally recognized union. Doughnut Workers United (DWU), the local union representing workers of Voodoo Doughnut, won their union election on Tuesday, September 27, with 16 votes in favor and six votes against.

Workers are seeking a contract that would secure livable wages and better working conditions, better healthcare options, increased safety measures, and fair and consistent scheduling. Additionally, the union hopes the forthcoming contract will address the company’s hiring and firing practices.

“One of our big things we’re aiming for is to get rid of at-will employment,” says DWU’s Samantha Medina. “This company has a long history of abusing their power when it comes to that. ... We want to give everyone a fair and equal chance to continue on with this company.”

The path to unionization has been long and hard fought for Voodoo Doughnut workers, who first started organizing in March 2020. In 2021, workers called on the company to voluntarily recognize their union. When Voodoo failed to do so, the union filed a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — the June 2021 vote produced a tie, the result of which meant the union was not granted certification. On August 1, 2022, workers at the Old Town location filed for election with the NLRB for the second time.

“Over the last two years, workers have been organizing diligently to get to this point of a second union election!” a Facebook post from DWU reads. “Despite constant pressure and union busting from Voodoo Doughnut; despite inhumane working conditions in record breaking temperatures; despite faulty, unsafe, and poorly managed equipment on the restaurant floor; despite illegal firings of workers; we have stuck to it, kept our chins up and shoulders back, and we’re here to see this through once again!”

Throughout union efforts, the union has claimed that Voodoo Doughnut has engaged in union busting tactics, including removing union information from the workplace, intimidating employees via closed-door conversations, hiring new employees instead of rehiring workers who were furloughed at the beginning of the pandemic, and illegally firing seven workers who walked out during a record-breaking heatwave in June 2021.

In a statement to Eater Portland following the election, the company said that “Voodoo always has been and will continue to be a unique place to work that is centered around our people and the product they serve,” but that they were disappointed in the election results.

“We’re disappointed that the employees at our Old Town, Portland, location chose to have a third party speak on their behalf as we continue to believe working directly together is the best for our employees,” the statement to Eater Portland reads. “However, we respect our employees’ right to organize and will continue to operate in good faith moving forward.”

On the same day as the election, DWU launched a GoFundMe to raise funds that will go towards supporting workers through contract negotiations.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

Voodoo Doughnut

22 Southwest 3rd Avenue, , OR 97204 (503) 241-4704 Visit Website