Portland fast-food workers will rally in Portland this week in hopes of beginning a move toward unionization.
The move comes despite a significant hike in the Oregon minimum wage signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown earlier this year.
Last week, a public relations firm acting on behalf of an undisclosed union sent out notice that workers will rally on Tuesday, April 26, at the Clinton Street Theater in Southeast Portland beginning at 3 pm.
Fast food workers are your neighbors, your friends, and we are barely getting by. We’re excited about the passage of a minimum wage increase, but it’s not enough. We need real change now. We are organizing a fast food worker union for both a wage increase and for respect in our workplace.
At the rally, workers will speak to their issues and their demands, which includes a $5 an hour raise for all hourly workers, consistent schedules, and safe working conditions. Then, the crowd will march to the fast food restaurant. A group of community supporters will also deliver a letter of support to the local corporate offices of this fast food chain.
Most fast-food workers in Oregon, according to a state report released earlier this year, make less than $10 an hour.
Nationally, the Service Employees International Union has spent more than $25 million trying to unionize fast-food workers in recent years.
There are at least two nearby fast-food outlets that marchers might be targeting: a Burgerville at Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard and a McDonald's three blocks east of that.
In an examination of SEIU's efforts to unionize fast food workers, Bloomberg found it a stumbling block that fast-food restaurants in a chain share common names, branding and products, but the restaurants themselves are owned by individual franchisees—they are in effect independent small businesses.
"Almost all the people SEIU wants to organize aren't directly employed by the fast-food giants they've gone to war against," Bloomberg wrote. "Instead, the big chains contract out the management of most stores to thousands of small franchisees, legally distinct companies that hire the workers, run the business, and pass a cut of their sales back to headquarters. Most people flipping burgers under the Golden Arches don't get McDonald's paychecks, and even fewer will in the future."