Workers at a Southeast Portland Burgerville store are joining the wave of labor organizing that's sweeping Portland. On Monday, workers employed at the Burgerville restaurant at SE Powell Ave and SE 25th Ave announced their intent to join the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU), the nation's first fast food union.
The announcement follows workers' allegations that a new manager sexually harassed underage employees at the SE Powell restaurant, which sits across SE 26th Ave from Grover Cleveland High School. After workers called for this manager to be fired, Burgerville management allegedly transferred that worker to another location.
This incident sparked workers' interest in joining the larger union.
"[Human resources] is not on our side, they made that very clear," said an unnamed employee in a press release sent by the BVWU Monday. "Workers need to stand up for themselves, together."
According to the press release, these workers want to see this manager fired by the end of this week, or they will "escalate" their concerns. In union terms, escalation can often look like a picket, a strike, or a call to boycott a business.
The SE Powell Ave workers also raised concerns with an allegedly racist manager at the Oregon Convention Center Burgerville store, who is being accused of firing an employee of color without cause.
Workers at the SE Powell Ave store will vote on whether or not to unionize in coming months. If the majority of workers agree to join the BVWU, their shop will be the sixth local Burgerville location to be included in the larger union. BVWU was first formed in 2018 and reached its first contract with management in 2021.