Burgerville ratifies the first American fast food contract
Burgerville and the Burgerville Workers Union officially ratified a collective bargaining agreement last week, marking the nation’s first fast food contract.
The agreement comes after more than three years of work, strikes and walkouts by the Burgerville workers’ union. Seventy-five percent of union members voted, with 92 approving the contract, according to Eater.
The 39-unit chain employs about 800 people in Oregon and southwest Washington, but the contract oversees five union-represented Burgerville locations. According to the guidelines, all hourly employees will receive wage increases 25 cents per hour above the highest minimum wage between Oregon and Washington, until the starting salary of either States reaches $15. Burgerville already adopted this policy in 2019 and has so far achieved a starting wage of $14.25 an hour.
Tipping, another measure implemented in 2019, is also included in the contract. This resulted in an average increase of over $2 per hour. The agreement also includes safeguards to support employee health and well-being, including extended sick leave, vacation pay and paid parental leave.
The contract is in effect until May 2023.
“We are thrilled to approve the nation’s first fast food union contract and look forward to working with all Burgerville employees to be the best restaurant company to work for in the Pacific Northwest,” said Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor in a statement. “Burgerville has always valued its employees and invested in their well-being. As the first in the fast food industry to offer affordable health care to employees in 2006, it’s no surprise to be the first to have a collective bargaining agreement. What a great new chapter in our 60 year history.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 only 1.2% of workers in food services and drinking places were unionized, but the efforts have recently garnered much more attention.
Earlier this month, a Buffalo’s Starbucks store voted to unionize, the first among the chain’s more than 8,000 corporate sites in the United States. The measure passed by a 19-8 vote, with union employees hoping for a bigger voice on organization policies, health and safety conditions, increased protection against unfair dismissal or discipline , seniority rights, vacation rights, benefits and salaries. Two other locations held a vote, but one denied the union and another disputed the ballots, so a final decision could not be made.
More cafes are looking to hold a vote, including two in Boston, three more in Buffalo and one in Mesa, Arizona.
In addition, Collective Coffeewhich has 20 locations in Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recently voted to unionize with approximately 440 employees, making it the largest unionized coffee shop in the United States. Previously, Buffalo-based Spot Coffee was the largest unionized cafe with about 130 members.