Employees of small chain Burgerville become U.S.'s first recognized fast-food union

Illustration for article titled Employees of small chain Burgerville become U.S.s first recognized fast-food union
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I hadn’t heard of Burgerville until I took a Pacific Northwest road trip last month that included a pit stop at one of their locations. The retro-diner feel and addictive Rosemary Shoestring Fries converted me to a fan, but there was also an authenticity to the operation, even though it’s a chain with 42 restaurants across Oregon and Washington. The customers all seemed to know the employees, and a community calendar spotlighting local car shows and Little League teams hung on the wall. Charming!

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If you don’t know Burgerville for aforementioned charm, you’ll now know it as the first American fast-food restaurant whose employees’ union received management recognition. Willamette Week reports workers at a Portland, Oregon location voted 18-4 in favor of organizing, and they’ve received corporate recognition of the National Labor Relations Board-supervised vote.

The vote has been in the works for two years; the workers are asking for a $5-per-hour raise, consistent scheduling, child care, and affordable healthcare. For months, the employees have urged customers to boycott the chain until such demands are met. Willamette Week reports the union is still urging that boycott until contracts are renegotiated.

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In the meantime, another Burgerville location in Gladstone, Oregon, has also seen its employees file for a union election with the NLRB. This likely won’t change much for customers of the restaurants; you should still definitely try those Rosemary Shoestring Fries.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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A Union?  That’s more of a burgerville idea ...