First fast food union wins national recognition in the United States

Photo: Burgerville Workers Union / Facebook.

In a major win for workers’ rights, workers at a United States fast-food chain, Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, have overwhelmingly voted for a federally-recognised union. This will make it the first fast food union in the country.

“Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the the only formally recognized fast food union in the country,” the Burgerville Workers Union, said on its Facebook page after the vote on April 23.

“For a long time, people have dismissed fast food as unorganizable, saying that turnover is too high, or the workers are too spread out. Today Burgerville workers proved them wrong.”

The food chain’s workers at the Southeast Portland food joint voted 18-4 in favour of the move to secure their labour rights, in which three workers abstained. The vote was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.  

The measure will allow the workers to have a say in the food chain’s decisions pertaining to them. Burgerville is now legally required to negotiate with the store’s workers, who are pushing for a wage rise, affordable health care and other benefits.  

“We got here because of [a] strike, union benefits, pickets, and marches,” the union emphasised on its Facebook page. “The fight isn’t over, of course. We still need to bargain for a fair contract with Burgerville, and until then the boycott still stands.”

Mark Medina, a store employee and union organiser, told The Oregonian on April 23. “A lot of us are poor, hungry and even homeless; we hope this will be the beginning of the end to poverty wages.”

Some of the demands listed by  on its website include: "A $5 raise for all hourly Burgerville workers, affordable, quality healthcare, a safe and healthy workplace, a supportive, sustainable workplace including paid maternity/paternity leave.”

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]