Workers at four Burgerville locations in Portland—the Convention Center, Southeast 92nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard, Hawthorne and Montavilla—this morning walked off the job in protest of stalled wage negotiations.
The Burgerville Workers Union said in a statement that the strike is the largest in the young union's history and that workers intend to continue to strike "until they've sufficiently demonstrated their strength to the company."
Union members are striking over a recent wage proposal from Burgerville management, which includes a $1 an hour raise for all employees at the chain's 41 locations in Oregon and Washington starting December 30.
"Corporate's recent wage proposal, which amounts to the legally mandated minimum wage increase a mere six months early, does nothing to change the status quo at Burgerville," the BVWU said in a statement. "We deserve a living wage, and we'll fight tooth and nail until we get it."
In response, Burgerville said in a statement that it intends to stay open at the four stores where employees are striking for as long as it can.
"Burgerville and the union were able to come to an agreement on most items being negotiated except wages," the company said. "The union was not willing to accept Burgerville's proposed wage increases."
The company continued to note that the $3 million dollar loan it recently took out is not intended to cover state-mandated minimum-wage increases. Rather, it will allegedly allow Burgerville to "increase Oregon employees' wages early, increase the higher end of the pay scale, and increase the rate at which employees can move up the pay scale and advance their careers."
The BVWU plans to host public actions—such as a Halloween-themed picket at the convention center today at 5 pm and overnight camping at the Burgerville corporate office in Vancouver, Wash. to "mourn the death of Burgerville's conscience."
"This strike marks the beginning of a new phase in our struggle," the BVWU said. "There's no going back from this. Until Burgerville corporate agrees to a fair deal, there will be no holds barred."