92nd and Powell location staff vote for BVWU to be nationally recognized, Gladstone next.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Burgerville workers and allies picket the Convention Center store in February 2018. Their union  voted to be nationally recognized Monday April 23, 2018.

Burgerville workers at the 92nd and Powell location voted to formally recognize the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU).

The BVWU is now the only fast food union in the country with formal recognition.

Voting took place Sunday and Monday inside the restaurant and was overseen by facilitators from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Staff cast a vote in favor or against joining the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Portland Chapter, doing business as Burgerville Workers Union.

The 18-4 in favor vote (with three abstensions) means Burgerville is now legally obliged to negotiate with the store's staff.

BVWU was launched two years ago in April of 2016. Their demands include a $5 pay raise, an end to Burgerville's voluntary use of e-verify, consistent scheduling, and affordable health care.

"Burgerville leaves a lot of us workers poor, hungry, and homeless," said Mark Medina, a worker at the 92nd and Powell location. "With the company's use of e-verify, some of us even face possible deportation."

The union has an active presence in six stores.

According to Medina, "Burgerville refused to acknowledge the union until the election at 92nd and Powell began. Workers also report experiencing a harsh anti-union campaign that has resulted in up to seven retaliatory firings of union supporters since January 2017…The union is about workers standing up for each other and building a better world, and Burgerville has done everything they can to stop us."

Workers at the Gladstone Burgerville also filed for a union election last week.

"We hope workers at other fast food companies watch our elections, see what the BVWU is doing, and realize that they can do the same," said Stefan Stackhouse, a worker at the Gladstone Burgerville. "That they don't have to put up with poverty wages and constant disrespect. That things can be better."

Burgerville put out a statement Monday via its PR firm Weinstein Public Relations saying it welcomed the yes vote. Weinstein was hired April 1, 2018.

The company, which has denied harassing union organizers, touted the move as a first for Burgerville after IWW's failures to unionize a Starbucks store in New York City and a Jimmy John's sandwich shop in Minneapolis.

"Our employees have spoken, we hear them, and we support their decision," said Beth Brewer, Senior VP of Operations for Burgerville. "We will navigate this new working relationship together in a positive, productive way and bargain in good faith with the union at Burgerville Store #41."

She said that Burgerville has "always been a leader in the fast-food industry," adding "With the same pioneering spirit that Burgerville is known for, we are ready to support the nation's first unionized fast-food store." The fast food firm has 42 locations throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington and over 1,500 employees.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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