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Paragraph Burgerville Workers at Three Stores Go on Strike over Bad Faith Bargaining

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

08.09.2019

Contact: Emmett Schlenz, 401-855-9440, emmett.schlenz@gmail.com

Burgerville Workers at Three Stores Go on Strike over Bad Faith Bargaining 

PORTLAND, OR: Today, on Friday August 9, the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) went on strike at three stores to demand that Burgerville bargain with the Union in good faith and present workers with a serious proposal for higher wages. In a coordinated action, over 50 workers from the Hawthorne, 92nd & Powell, and Montavilla Burgerville locations went on strike today. This comes after months without a new wage proposal from Burgerville, and after the BVWU filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Burgerville for bad faith bargaining. Workers will return to work tomorrow.

The BVWU has been in contract negotiations with Burgerville for over a year. In that time, the only wage proposal Burgerville has brought to the bargaining table is a $0.13/hr raise, which they presented five months ago. The BVWU found this proposal unacceptable, because it comes nowhere close to meeting workers’ demands for a living wage—a $5 raise for all hourly workers by the end of the three year contract, and for new hires to start at $15/hour immediately.

Right now, Burgerville pays many employees poverty wages, meaning that workers don’t make enough to maintain a decent standard of living. “When Burgerville workers have to choose between paying rent and paying for groceries, something’s wrong,” said Emmett Schlenz, a Hawthorne worker who participated in the strike. “They [Burgerville corporate] should be ashamed of themselves for fighting to keep people in poverty.” 

Since this spring, Burgerville has repeatedly promised to bring workers a better wage proposal and then failed to do so, breaking their promises and missing deadlines they set themselves. “They’ve been stringing us along for months,” said Drew Edmonds, a worker at the Montavilla Burgerville who went on strike. “They don’t want to talk to us, they don’t want to work with us, and now they won’t come to the bargaining table at all.”

This past Wednesday August 7, Burgerville was scheduled to meet with the BVWU for a contract negotiations session, and bring a new wage proposal. On Tuesday, Burgerville told the Union that they would not be meeting for bargaining the next day, because of the possibility of a strike on Wednesday. Burgerville specifically cited that General Managers would not be able to attend bargaining, because they would have to be present at their stores to handle potential strikes. The BVWU upholds that some General Managers regularly miss bargaining sessions, and this is an inadequate reason to justify once again pushing back contract negotiations.

Delaying the bargaining session has very immediate impacts on workers like Betty Buchanan from the Montavilla Burgerville, who can’t afford to keep waiting for a raise. Buchanan said, I’ve had to sell the only thing I had left from my dad before he passed away, just to put food on the table. I’m going on strike because they keep stalling and we need a raise and fair contract now.Mark Medina, a striking worker from 92nd & Powell, stated that “Every month the company refuses to move forward towards a good contract, every month they make excuses, is a month working families have to do without.”

On Wednesday, the BVWU filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that Burgerville’s decision to postpone a contract negotiations session on the basis of a potential strike constitutes bargaining in bad faith. According to Mark Medina, Burgerville corporate’s reasoning for pushing back the bargaining session doesn’t hold because “Any day the company refuses to bargain in good faith by bringing real proposals, is a potential strike day, regardless if that’s next week, next month, or next year.”

This morning, Burgerville workers from the Hawthorne, 92nd & Powell, and Montavilla stores went on strike to show Burgerville Corporate that they will not tolerate any more delays in negotiating over wages. “We’re on strike because this kind of behavior can’t stand,” said Nathan Iles-Pride, a worker from the Hawthorne Burgerville. “Bad faith bargaining, dragging their feet on the wage issue, refusing to negotiate—this is unacceptable. We have been fighting for years and it’s about time we see real results.”

The BVWU has won elections at five Burgerville stores and is the largest fast food workers union in U.S. history. Workers have been fighting for years for fair wages, an end to Burgerville’s voluntary collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), affordable health care, and improved working conditions. Burgerville corporate has sought to block Union demands at every opportunity and gone back on policies agreed to at the bargaining table. Corporate has also engaged in illegal activities, such as changing policies at stores involved in bargaining without first consulting the Union. Until a fair contract is negotiated, the BVWU continues to call for a boycott of all Burgerville locations. 

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ILRF is hiring

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The International Labor Rights Forum is hiring, for the Legal & Policy Director and Communications Coordinator positions. The International Labor Rights Forum is a human rights organization that advocates for dignity and justice for workers in the global economy. We hold global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains; we advance policies and laws that protect workers; and we strengthen workers’ ability to advocate for their rights. More information about ILRF is available at www.LaborRights.org.

Apply https://laborrights.org/join-our-team


Job Opening: Communications Coordinator

The Communications Coordinator will work across the organization to develop ILRF’s organization-wide communications strategy and to strengthen ILRF’s campaigns, policy advocacy, and alliances. The Communications Coordinator will carry out public campaign advocacy for workers’ rights, particularly as it relates to labor rights in globally-traded supply chains, such as agricultural commodities, apparel, and the seafood industry. Responsibilities include communications strategy development, coalition building and networking, responding to urgent action requests, supporting ILRF’s communications needs, and fundraising. This job is an excellent opportunity to grow your understanding of global supply chain campaigns, trade policy, and international labor rights advocacy.


Job Opening: Administrative Assistant

The Administrative Assistant will report to the Director of Finance and Administration, and play an integral role in the organization’s operations and fundraising, working closely with other staff to strengthen ILRF’s engagement with supporters and activists. Responsibilities include coordinating logistics and fundraising for ILRF’s annual gala, database administration and maintenance, cultivating individual donor relationships, supporting the Executive Director with scheduling and engagement with board members, and other finance and administrative duties. This job is an excellent entrée into understanding nonprofit management and an overall perspective on ILRF’s full range of labor rights advocacy.

FOOD WORKERS STAND WITH BLACK LIVES MATTERS

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We emphatically reject the violent abhorrent actions that took place in Minneapolis against peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We call on our elected officials to denounce these terrorists with the same vigor as the attacks in Paris last week.

As the country’s largest private sector workforce, the nation’s 20 million food workers form the backbone of the economy. Over 40% of workers in the food system are people of color. However, the food system has the lowest wages of any sector in the economy. The legacy of slavery continues to plague the food system, and our society at large. The jobs that were once slave-labor; farmworkers, pickers, servers and others are now by no coincidence the lowest paid jobs in America. Unless we leave these chains behind we will not be able to move forward and value the labor of the people who put food on our table.

On this International Food Worker Week when we give thanks for our families and the food we are blessed to share, let us not forget the workers and their families that struggle every day to put food on their tables. As food workers we give thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and our shared struggle to free us all from the legacy of slavery in our food system and in society.

Donate for Joann’s 40th Birthday!

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2014 05 18 JoannJoann Lo, co-director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, is turning 40 this year on March 16, and her birthday wish is to raise $1,500 for the Alliance! Click below to donate!

Joann is so proud to be part of this organization that is supporting innovative organizing campaigns and policy initiatives that are improving jobs for low-wage food workers and that is changing the national discussion around a sustainable food system so more and more people now include good jobs as part of what a sustainable food should be. Please consider donating at least $40 for her 40th birthday (more or less is much appreciated, too!) and help her reach her goal! In the above photo, she is at a rally with her husband and her daughter. Thank you for your help!

The Hands That Feed Us

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June 6, 2012 – Today, the Food Chain Workers Alliance releases a new report, The Hands That Feed Us: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers Along the Food Chain, the first of its kind that looks at wages and working conditions of workers across the entire food chain – a sector that employs 20 million people in the U.S., comprising one-sixth of the nation’s workforce.

The Hands That Feed Us is based on nearly 700 surveys and interviews with workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service, which collectively sell over $1.8 trillion dollars in goods and services annually, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

According to our report, there are some good jobs in the food system (13.5% of workers surveyed earn livable wages), but the vast majority are incredibly low-wage, with little or no access to paid sick days and health benefits, with dire consequences for consumers. More than 86 percent of workers reported earning subminimum, poverty, and low wages, resulting in a sad irony: food workers face higher levels of food insecurity, or the inability to afford to eat, than the rest of the U.S. workforce.

You can download the full report, the executive summary, and the executive summary in Spanish. If you would like a hard copy of any of these, please contact us at info (at) foodchainworkers.org.

The Hands That Feed Us examines the five core food occupations and industries in the food system: farmworkers (production), slaughterhouse and other processing facilities workers (processing), warehouse workers (distribution), grocery store workers (retail), and restaurant and food service workers (service).  It examines how corporate consolidation throughout the food chain has created universal impacts on workers in terms of low wages, small to midsize employers in terms of unfair competition, and consumers in terms of food quality and diversity.  Employers interviewed unanimously commented on how multinational food corporations receiving government subsidies and tax breaks and buying up their own suppliers has created unfair and unmanageable competition.

In addition to examples of poor work environments, the report also highlights fair business practices and steps that policymakers, consumers, and employers can take to improve conditions for food system workers.

Key Findings from The Hands That Feed Us:

Lack of Benefits: Seventy-nine percent of food system workers do not have a single paid sick day, or do not know if they have paid sick days, and 58 percent lack health coverage. Consequently, 53 percent have admitted to working while sick.

Reliance on Public Support: Food system workers use food stamps at one-and-a-half times the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. Food industry employees are also more likely receive Medicaid than other industries.  Nearly 28% of food system employees are on Medicaid, compared to 19.36% of all industries. Due to a lack of employer-provided health benefits, more than one third of all workers surveyed (34.8%) report using the emergency room for primary health care. In addition, 80 percent of these workers are unable to pay for such care.

Poor Quality of Life: A full 10 percent reported working more than 10 hours per day, and the vast majority of those reported working 60 or more hours per week. Almost half of the workers also reported working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Lack of Upward Mobility: Despite taking on more duties, 81 percent never received a promotion.

Improper Safety Training: More than half of all workers surveyed (52 percent) reported that they did not receive health and safety training from their employers. Almost one-third of all food system workers (32.7%) reported that their employers did not always provide necessary equipment to do their jobs. A majority of workers (57.2%) reported suffering an injury or illness on the job.

Gender and Race Discrimination: While about one quarter of Black and Latino workers and almost 40 percent of Asian workers reported earning less than the minimum wage, only 13.5 percent of white workers surveyed reported earning less than the minimum wage. Not surprisingly given these differences, more than one third of workers surveyed reported feeling that they had been discriminated against by their employer. Women food system workers take home slightly less than men in the food system; women earn median weekly wages of $400, while men reported a median weekly take-home of $421.

There are answers: There is tremendous potential to engage consumers, small-to-midsize employers and workers to change the food system for all.  For starters policymakers can increase the minimum wage and guarantee workers health benefits and the right to organize.  Consumers can support businesses that are providing livable wages and benefits, and speak out against those that are not.  Employers can increase wages and benefits; adopt systematic and fair hiring and promotion practices; and adopt benefits, such as paid sick days, that would allow employees to care for themselves and their families.

Read The Hands That Feed Us for more detailed recommendations for policymakers, consumers, and employers!

Help us connect with consumers!  Take our GoodMaker Challenge and submit an idea for a creative way to educate consumers! Click here for more info!

Check out the media coverage of the report! Click here for the full list!

Research support for the report was provided by the DataCenter and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Writing support was provided by Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center, University of California, Berkeley.

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