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This week, the chain's employees voted to grant their union federal recognition.

Elisabeth Sherman
April 25, 2018

In a historic event, Burgerville has become the first fast food chain in the country to operate an official union.

Employees at Portland location number 41 of the chain voted yesterday to make their branch of an unofficial organization, known as the Burgerville Workers Union, recognized by the federal government. The Burgerville Worker’s Union operates under the umbrella of the Industrial Workers of the World

In a statement, Mark Medina, the union’s leader, wrote “What happened here is historic...Burgerville workers are at the forefront of their own movement, proving to everyone that we can change our lives and our world for the better,” as Eater reports.

Burgerville’s corporate offices released a statement of its own, writing that the chain supports the employees' decision to unionize, and looks forward navigating the “new working relationship together in a positive, productive way.”

Only employees at location 41 are a part of the newly minted union, although employees from other Burgerville locations are still active members of the Burgerville Workers Union. At least one other branch of the organization, in Gladstone, is hoping to hold a similar vote in the near future.

Meanwhile, in New York City, fast food workers are leading the Fight for $15 movement, which demands that restaurant employees receive a livable minimum wage and stable, predictable schedules (which would allow for basic necessities like reliable childcare and doctors appointments).

In Seattle, the minimum wage for restaurant workers is already $15, but studies are still conflicting about whether or not the move has reduced the number of available restaurant jobs.

Last year, employees as fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King held a demonstration on Labor Day, during which they called for a union to “fix the economic and political systems that have been rigged,” against them. Now that Burgerville employees have a taken a stand, there’s a strong chance those working at McDonald’s and Burger King may soon follow suit.