A worker strike at multiple Burgerville restaurants in Portland has ended after four days.
Management and representatives from the Burgerville Workers Union sent separate statements to the Tribune on Sunday, Oct. 27 — saying that both sides planned to retake their seats at the bargaining table in the coming weeks.
The strike sent workers at four of the five unionized burger joints into the streets, but the eateries never completely closed, as many of the company's 1,600 total employees remained at their work stations. Operations were not affected at 36 non-unionized locations.
"We support the rights of all our workers," said Burgerville Chief Executive Officer Jill Taylor. "I sincerely want to thank our employees who kept all Burgerville restaurants open during this time."
The Burgerville Workers Union, part of the International Workers of the World, is primarily seeking a wage increase for its members, after already winning tipping privileges. Bosses at the Oregon and Southwest Washington company say they took out a $3 million loan in order to bump up pay by $1 to $3 per hour for all workers, though the raise to some extent anticipates state mandated increases.
"With a large strike on their hands, Burgerville corporate agreed to further negotiate over their wage proposal, which they had previously claimed was their 'best, last and final offer,'" the union said in a statement.
The short strike was not free from controversy. On Thursday, Oct. 24, a planned campout at Burgerville's headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, was canceled after Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and a few others unexpectedly arrived on scene. The union said Gibson's history of provoking violent confrontation forced them to cancel the all-night vigil. Management said it had a "zero tolerance" policy for actions that leave workers feeling unsafe.
Joey Gibson is here, chatting with some union folks. Most are still singing. pic.twitter.com/8QSzHbXuna— Anthony Macuk (@anthonymacuk) October 25, 2019
"Burgerville condemns all forms of discrimination, harassment and violence. We support the union's right to lawfully strike," the company said in a statement.
According to a corporate statement, workers at Burgerville make a minimum of $13.50 an hour and top out around $16.18 hourly, plus tips. The company also touts its health insurance, life insurance, sick leave and scholarship programs.
The Burgerville Union — widely considered to be the first fast food union in modern American history — told the Tribune that consumers are encouraged to boycott the stores until a contract is signed.
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