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Another chain restaurant is unionized

Photograph: Shutterstock

Employees of a Burgerville quick-service restaurant in Portland, Ore., voted this week to be represented in wage negotiations and other dealings with management by an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the union that organized three units of the regional chain last year.

Union elections at a fifth Burgerville unit conclude April 5. 

The newest store to unionize, in the Portland neighborhood of Montavilla, opted for collective bargaining by a 15-9 vote. The secret balloting was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

Burgerville, a 45-unit chain concentrated in Washington and Oregon, repeated its pledge to deal in good faith with the IWW affiliate representing employees of the four organized stores, the Burgerville Workers Union (BWW). The BWW lashed out at the company for posting flyers alerting the staff that all staff members would be required to join the union and pay dues if a majority of the team opted to unionize. 

The burger chain has taken a high-road approach to efforts by the IWW, also known as the Wobblies. After the first Burgerville unit was unionized, the home office took out a full-page newspaper ad that declared the chain’s pride in being the first quick-service brand to have a federally recognized union.

The vote comes as the IWW is attempting to organize another regional brand concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the 23-store Little Burger chain, a holding of multi-concept operator Chanticleer Holdings.  The affiliated formed to organize workers in that system, the Little Big Union, is seeking an across-the-board raise of $5 an hour, along with scheduling and paid-leave concessions.

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