Burgerville union and management reach contractual agreement after three years of negotiations

The Burgerville Workers Union has reached a tentative agreement on a contract with management of the Pacific Northwest fast food chain after more than three years of negotiations, representatives from Burgerville and the union said Friday.

The contract is expected to be ratified by a vote of workers at five unionized Burgerville sites and will affect approximately 100 employees. Voting on the contract is expected to end by mid-December and, if passed, will make Burgerville the only fast-food restaurant workforce in the country covered by a collective agreement.

The contract will be renewed on May 1, 2023, when union spokesman Mark Medina said their work would resume.

“We see this as the basis for developing a union standard for a life worthy of workers – not the end of the story,” Medina told The Oregonian / OregonLive on Saturday. “In the run-up to our contract renewal, it’s no surprise that we’re absolutely stepping up the escalation so that our workers get a deal they deserve, and that includes strikes, picketing – whatever it is. should.”

Contract negotiations between the union and Burgerville management began in June 2018 but suffered multiple setbacks, including seven worker strikes and a boycott campaign.

Negotiations appeared to collapse in 2019, when the Vancouver-based company announced it would increase base pay by an amount significantly lower than the union demanded. On October 19, union organizers led a march across the Hawthorne Bridge and woven a picket line around the popular Hawthorne Boulevard chain site, where they blocked all entrances for about two hours and refused to enter cars. in the drive-thru.

Negotiations continued, however, and an agreement was reached after 51 meetings between union leaders and Burgerville management, according to a statement released by Burgerville on Friday.

The new contract would give employees a fixed three-month schedule, paid vacation and parental leave, five paid statutory holidays, and terminate employment at will, allowing Burgerville employees to be terminated without warning or reason. . The contract also allows workers at unionized Burgerville sites to elect a “shop steward,” a union member who sits at disciplinary and investigative hearings, Medina said.

Several other victories already achieved by the Burgerville Workers Union will also be enshrined in the new contract, including increasing the starting wage to $ 14.25 an hour and allowing employees to earn tips and get a free meal at every shift.

The union felt ready to strike a deal when Burgerville management agreed to reinstate a failover system it had temporarily tested at its Lloyd District site in northeast Portland. With the addition of tips, workers there were making between $ 22 and $ 25 an hour. Burgerville has agreed to roll out a tip system at its five unionized locations within 30 days of contract ratification, Medina said.

“I am so happy to come to an agreement that serves the employees of Burgerville, who are the heart of this business,” said Jill Taylor, CEO of Burgerville, in a statement Friday.

The union announced on Friday that it would end its boycott of Burgerville once the contract was ratified. Organizers also plan to hold a celebration in mid-December to honor workers and community members who have supported their efforts. Part of the day’s celebration will include training on labor law issues and how to become a union member, Medina said.

For Medina, Friday’s announcement marked a rare moment of rest after more than three years of negotiations.

“It personally feels less festive and more like an exhale to me,” Medina said. “I hope we can inspire people and workers to feel that this is not hopeless. It is worth fighting for it.

– Catalina Gaitán; find them on Twitter @catalinagaitan_

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