Burgerville is reversing its policy against allowing staff to wear apparel expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement—with a caveat.
Employees of the Vancouver, Wash.-based fast food chain may now display buttons and other gear supporting the ongoing nationwide protests against the police killings of George Floyd and other African Americans, but the paraphernalia must be produced by Burgerville itself.
The company said in a statement that it is "working as quickly as we can to develop accessories (buttons, T-shirts, stickers, etc.) that align to our uniform standards, and demonstrate our commitments and our solidarity."
"Burgerville stands with Black Lives Matter," the statement reads. "As a company that cares deeply about the health and resiliency of our region, we stand in solidarity with those seeking justice and advocating for an inclusive society."
Earlier this week, however, the Burgerville Workers Union issued a statement alleging that managers at a Northeast Portland location threatened to discipline employees for wearing buttons issued by the union reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for George Floyd." The union threatened legal action against the company.
A similar dispute occurred in 2018, when the company banned apparel featuring political statements after several workers were reprimanded for wearing buttons reading "Abolish ICE," leading to a strike at two locations.
The union says it is "encouraged" by Burgerville's policy change, but criticized the company for using corporate branding on the apparel, and for the use of the hashtag "AlliesForChange."
"Asking all workers, especially black workers, to self-identify as an 'ally' in this moment ignores the ways in which some Burgerville workers are not merely allies, but directly and substantially impacted by police violence in their communities," the union said in a statement.
According to that statement, workers will continue to wear buttons the union made even after being issued the company-approved apparel.