Portland area has now become Ground Zero for a new trend in organized labor — unionizing fast food employees.
For years, unions have seen fast-food employees as an untouched cash cow from which to milk dues. The workers seem to union leaders like ideal targets of opportunity because fast-food employees typically are willing to trade relatively modest wages for the opportunity to get a foot in the door of the labor market.
That union intervention would make matters worse by causing employers to reduce the number of these entry-level positions never figures into their reasoning.
In Portland, for example, Burgerville employees from several different locations decided to organize and form their own labor union, the Burgerville Worker’s Union (BVWU), which has now become the first union of its kind in the nation.
Despite its federal recognition, BVWU has done literally nothing for the employees other than drive a wedge between them and their employer.
First, despite already being paid 20 percent better than their counterparts, the unionized Burgerville employees are demanding a ludicrous $5-an-hour wage increase. But ever since the union has been in negotiations with the employer, not a single employee has yet to see a pay raise.
And pay increase isn’t the only demand the fast food union has failed to deliver on.
BVWU has also pushed for affordable health insurance, childcare and “sanctuary” workplaces — all to no avail.
Despite these manifest failures, another Portland fast-food restaurant from a separate chain are also following BVWU’s lead and making outrages demands.
Little Big Burger, a regional chain spanning four states including Oregon, has had employees from one of its Portland locations unionize. The union has pushed many of the same demands as BVWU and has even taken to the streets to march and make their voices heard.
But to date, their cries have fallen on deaf ears seeing that management still refuses to even recognize the union.
Labor advocacy groups tend to wildly exaggerate their popularity with workers in the Northwest by citing the example of these fringe fast-food employees who have pushed to unionize. But if unions were so loved and supported in the PNW, why have they failed so miserably to deliver on all their grandiose promises?
Dues paid to the BVWU apparently go towards nothing.
Instead, these unions are just going to accelerate momentum towards automation in the fast food industry.
In fact, a number of chains have already started installing self-serve ordering kiosks, overnight ovens, and automatic burger-flipping robots to replace human employees due to the high turnover rate in the industry.
But another way to speed up that process is by making insane demands for labor.
A spokesperson for the Little Big Union at a recent rally stated, “Soon there won’t be a burger flipped in this town (Portland) that isn’t flipped by a union hand.”
And she’s absolutely right, too. Just not in the way she’d like to be.