Burgerville union members begin to picket, threaten walkout

Business

The union has given the company a deadline of October 18 to sign a contract

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Burgerville workers at the Montavilla restaurant picketed Friday evening. They said they were fighting for a fair contract.

Employees at the 5 Burgerville stores with union recognition have formed a strike committee, and gave the company a deadline of October 18 to sign a contract. They said if the deal was not signed, workers are prepared to walk out. If they strike, the union said it could be the longest and largest in its history.

“The outcome we want from tonight is that Burgerville comes to the bargaining session on Wednesday ready to actually sign a deal,” said Emmett Schlenz, a Burgerville employee. “We would love to not have to escalate.”

The union and Burgerville corporate have been in contract negotiations for nearly a year and a half. Union representatives told KOIN 6 News they have made progress on some aspects of a contract, but still remain far apart on issues like wages, health care, and protection for undocumented workers.

“Their behavior at the bargaining table was unacceptable,” said negotiator Mark Medina in a press release. “We want to sign a deal, we really do, but if Burgerville doesn’t change its ways they’re going to have a lot of angry workers to deal with.”

KOIN 6 News reached out to Burgerville. They provided a statement that, in part, reads:

“Burgerville is changing the way we do business. We are engaging employees more, listening better and rebuilding trust. We worked from May to September of 2019 to follow through on two commitments to our workforce – to increase pay for hourly employees working on holidays, and to institute a tipping system. Both of these initiatives were both designed and executed by Burgerville management and the Burgerville workforce working together for the benefit of all Burgerville employees.

We understand we are not meeting every employee’s expectations or needs. But we’re working on it. We continue to negotiate with the union in good faith, and we are working to meet all employees’ needs. As with everything we do at Burgerville, we’re putting people first. Tips and holiday pay are just the beginning, and we hope they help our employees feel heard, valued and empowered.

“I’ve always believed that people are at the heart of Burgerville. We have to put people first if we want to succeed. That’s the only way to meet our mission and it’s the right thing to do. That means we have to be good listeners and good communicators, and we have to work to improve the wellbeing of all employees. Holiday pay and tips are just the beginning,” said Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor.”

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