FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Emmett Schlenz, 401-855-9440, firstname.lastname@example.org
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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