A Burgerville restaurant in the Portland, Oregon, area is now allowing its employees to wear buttons on their uniforms decrying the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and supporting movements like Black Lives Matter.
Other buttons included phrases such as “No one is illegal.”
This is a departure from the company’s initial policy of not permitting political pins on employee uniforms.
Burgerville, , which has 42 locations in Oregon and Washington, first made national news in April when they formed the U.S.’s first fast-food union.
What are the details?
After Burgerville announced the policy to ban the buttons, some employees were sent home without pay.
The employees said that they refused to comply with the policy because they believed that such suppression was “white supremacist.”
A posting on the Burgerville Workers Union described the policy and the employee response. A portion of the post stated, “When bosses tell workers they are not allowed to support Black Lives Matter or to stand with undocumented immigrants, they are siding with white supremacy. There are black and undocumented Burgerville workers, and as of today, Burgerville’s official policy is that their lives and safety are too ‘political’ for the company.”
“Unions are about more than just wages and benefits,” the post added. “White supremacy is a workplace issue. Sexism and misogyny are workplace issues. Fascism is a workplace issue. And if unions are about making a fairer and more just workplace, then that means fighting all of those forces on the job as well.”
You can read the full posting below.
What did the union do?
Later that day, the union shared a second Facebook update declaring that they’d been successful in getting Burgerville to revoke the ban on political buttons.
After the restaurant reversed its initial position, the employees who were sent home without pay were fully reinstated at their positions and received back wages.
It didn’t end there. Burgerville also permitted workers to “include their gender pronouns on their name tags,” according to the second Facebook posting.
“Let’s be crystal clear: the only reason they changed this policy is because of the actions of our coworkers,” a portion of the post read. “When workers at [Burgerville] chose to not take off their ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘No One Is Illegal’ and ‘Abolish ICE’ buttons — knowing they would be forced to go home — they used their collective power to denounce white supremacy and shut down the drive thru and dining hall, pushing [corporate] to change their policy.”
Despite the fact that the workers were able to keep their jobs, their political pins, and their preferred gender pronouns, the union said that they aren’t quite finished with corporate Burgerville just yet.
“WE DEMAND a formal apology to the crew at [Burgerville] for forcing them to decide between their jobs and supporting the fight against white supremacy, and,” the post continued, “WE DEMAND that the button policy support of freedom of expression and explicitly be against white supremacy.”
“Please keep boycotting Burgerville until we get a fair contract!” the posting concluded.
According to the Oregonian, the union is asking for a bargaining contract with the company, and additionally, are demanding “protections for immigrant workers” as well as a $5 per hour wage increase, among other perks.
Liz Graham, Burgerville’s director of human resources, told the outlet, “Guests provided feedback that they didn’t want to see personal and political messages while they ate. Additionally, some employees expressed that the content of the buttons was drawing unwanted attention that made them uncomfortable.”
The company has suspended the political button policy until it can be more streamlined, the outlet noted.
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)