As tensions over restaurant unions play out prominently across Portland—with a recent strike at Burgerville and a rejected unionization dive at Little Big Burger—workers at Scottie's Pizza Parlor quietly unionized last month.
On Sept. 22, NW Labor Press first reported, the restaurant's 15 workers presented a petition to the store's owner, Scottie Rivera, announcing their decision to unionize. Rivera voluntarily recognized the union.
"Having worked over a decade in the foodservice industry, for minimum wage or barely above it, I opened Scottie's Pizza Parlor in 2015 with the number one goal of creating good paying jobs (with benefits) and treating workers with the dignity and respect that they deserve," Rivera says. "From day one of opening my shop, I've told my employees that I would voluntarily recognize their union."
Workers at Scottie's unionized with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a 112-year-old labor union based in Chicago. Rivera says his wife is a longtime IWW member who helped organize a Graduate Employees Union at Portland State University. The couple actively supported the Burgerville Workers Union and Little Big Union campaigns by fundraising, donating pizzas and picketing.
"As a business owner, I can always do my best to address workers' concerns and create the best workplace possible, but there is no substitute for workers having collective power," Rivera says. "It makes sense that the staff wants to make sure their voices are heard as we enter a new chapter which may include opening additional locations."
The Scottie's union does not have any specific demands currently, Rivera says, but in its petition "communicated that they are unionizing in order to have a seat at the decision-making table, and also that they see an opportunity to lead by example within their community of food and service workers."