Fries, Drink…Contract!

By Evan Henerson

How about those workers out at the fast food eatery Burgerville in Southeast Portland. According to multiple media reports, they’ve just made history.

Earlier this week, the workers at the 92nd and Powell location voted 18-4 to form what would become the first federally recognized fast food union in the country. The National Labor Relations Board orchestrated the vote, which means that the 1,500 person company must meet with the Burgerville Workers Union to begin contract negotiations.

“For a long time people have dismissed fast food as unorganizable, saying that turnover is too high, or the workers are too spread out,” the union said in a statement on its Facebook site. “Today Burgerville workers proved them wrong.

In this moment of victory we want to celebrate, yes, but we also want to turn our attention to the 4.5 million other fast food workers in the United States. We want to speak to everyone else who works for poverty wages, who are constantly disrespected on the job, who are told they aren’t educated enough, aren’t experienced enough, aren’t good enough for a decent life. To all of those workers, to everyone like us who works rough jobs for terrible pay, we say this:

Don’t listen to that [BS]. Burgerville workers didn’t, and look at us now.”

Unrest has been brewing since as early as 2016 when the Industrial Workers of the World (AKA the Wobblies) helped launch the Burgerville Workers Union at six of the chain’s 42 locations. Without an NLRB election vote, however, the company is not obligated to negotiate with them.

With the vote, that has now changed. A company-wide Burgerville Boycott will remain in effect until the union gets its contract, according to the BWU.

According to an article in the Seattle PI, the workers are seeking “affordable health care, a $5-per-hour raise for each employee, more reliable scheduling, and a discontinuation on the “E-Verify” program that the chain uses during the hiring process that can identify and report undocumented immigrants.”

Read more here.

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