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April 17, 2021

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Workers at second Oregon Burgerville restaurant unionize

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Burgerville has its tray full with unions. Just as the regional fast-food chain has set a date to start contract negotiations for its first restaurant to unionize, employees at another one organized over the weekend.

Employees at Burgerville Store No. 8, 19119 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., Portland, voted 17-5 over the weekend to band together and collectively negotiate contracts. Five workers abstained from voting.

The newly organized workers say they want $5 more per hour in wages, better health benefits and improved policies for scheduling and parental leave.

Their union also asks Burgerville to not use E-Verify, a software platform that can check immigration status. Burgerville representatives said they do not use E-Verify and to their knowledge never have.

The unionization comes about three weeks after another store in Southeast Portland voted to unionize, capping a two-year effort to become the first federally recognized fast-food union in the country.

Union representative Stefan Stackhouse said he hoped the Burgerville votes would encourage more workers in the service industries to organize. He said this second vote gives more credibility to that movement.

“Now, having two straight wins under our belt as a union is huge,” he said. “It’s extremely legitimizing for our campaign. I think we’re building a lot of momentum, and we’re making it clear to Burgerville that things need to change.”

Like the first vote, the weekend voting was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The Portland chapter of the Industrial Workers of the World backed the new union, called the Burgerville Workers Union.

Burgerville, headquartered in Vancouver, responded to the latest unionization by again touting its progressive reputation. Its statement mentions being an early adopter of organic and local ingredients and offering good wages and benefits relative to the fast-food industry.

“While working with a union is new to Burgerville, we have a long history of going first. It works out well for both our business and the communities we serve,” Beth Brewer, senior vice president of operations with the company, said in the statement.

The next step for the unions is to bargain for labor contracts. Burgerville will begin negotiations May 22 with the first restaurant, Burgerville Store No. 41. A date is not yet set for this latest store.

Burgerville, owned by Holland Inc., employs 1,500 people across 42 locations in Washington and Oregon. The restaurant was founded in 1961.

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