Portland restaurant workers vote to become first fast food union in the country

Portland restaurant workers vote to become first fast food union in the country
© Burgerville Workers Union/Facebook

Workers at a Burgerville restaurant in Portland, Ore., have voted to create the first formally recognized fast food union in the country.

Willamette Week reported Monday that staff at one of the chain’s locations voted 18-4 to unionize, more than two years after workers began the push to be formally recognized as a union.

Burgerville announced earlier this month that it would allow the staff to vote to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board-run election.

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"We started the BVWU to try to make things better for ourselves and our coworkers," Burgerville employee Mark Medina told Willamette Week. "The union is about workers standing up for each other and building a better world."

The union is now planning to negotiate a raise of $5 an hour for hourly staffers, on top of affordable health care, child care and consistent hours.

The group had called on customers to boycott the Burgerville location since February, and its spokesperson said the boycott "will remain in effect until the union and the company negotiate a fair contract."

Beth Brewer, Burgerville's senior vice president of operations, said in a statement to Williamette Week that the company is "ready to support the nation's first unionized fast-food store."

"Our employees have spoken, we hear them, and we support their decision. 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,” Brewer said.

A second Burgerville location in Portland has also filed to hold an election to unionize, but the company has not yet responded to the request.