Foodservice workers in Portland and across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Most of these workers earn minimum wage and are nearly twice as likely to be at or near the poverty level compared to the overall workforce. Women, people of color, Latinxs, and non-citizen workers are overrepresented in this group and often struggle to provide for their families.
People's has recognized this for a long time, and that is why we try to do things differently. Our full time staff is organized as a collective, with each co-manager sharing an equal voice and responsibility in running the store. We strive toward paying all of the people that work here a livable wage, and provide health care for all employees working 30 hours per week or more. An empowered and fairly-compensated workforce is what we are striving towards.
It's also why, when the Burgerville Workers Union asked us to endorse their union, we did so enthusiastically and with the support of the Collective, our Board, and our Member-Owners. These workers are asking for respect, a living wage, and control over their jobs and their futures. They deserve all of those things, and shouldn't have to demand them from their employer.
As it reads on the union's homepage:
We are fast food workers – mothers, fathers, students, grandparents. We are young and old. Everyday going into work, we're made to feel that we're at the bottom of the American economy. We make near minimum wage and struggle to make ends meet. People say, "It's fast food, what do you expect?" But no one should expect to live in poverty.
We formed our union because we matter, we work hard, we want respect, and we need a raise. We want to see the company do right by us, agree to a $5.00/hour raise, and listen to our voice.
The struggle that these workers are engaged in clearly relates to our Ends -- the values that drive the Co-op forward.
Because we value human rights and social and economic justice, when members of our community can barely afford rent, transportation, and healthy foods (much less the other things that fulfill them) we should be working together to support them. Our local economy cannot truly thrive if people are struggling to afford the things they need. Our community will never feel safe and welcoming if its members do not feel valued, compensated, or heard. People cannot access the food that we provide if they can't afford groceries. And a workplace is not democratic if its workers aren't paid fairly or listened to.
Staying devoted to our Ends means standing in solidarity with people who are fighting for those values, especially when we're invited to. And so here we are, standing next to the BVWU and championing their demands.
We hope you'll join us in the Community Room on Saturday May 14th at 6pm, when workers from the Burgerville Workers Union will come to tell us about their experience on the job and in organizing. Find out more about the event by following the link below. See you there.