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Preview: Industrial Workers of the World - Restaurant, Hotel, and Building Service Workers I.U. 640

Industrial Workers of the World - Restaurant, Hotel, and Building Service Workers I.U. 640

This page displays *all* news items from Restaurant, Hotel, and Building Service Workers Industrial Union 640. For an overview of the IU 640's history and contact information, please visit our homepage.


New York: Wobblies at Singing Restaurant Win Major Victory

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 23:28:38 +0000

By Stardust Family United - October 4, 2017 In a major victory for the singing servers at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, their employer has reached an agreement with their solidarity union, Stardust Family United, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). By entering into the settlement agreement, the company will narrowly avoid a trial on some 19 violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including 31 retaliatory firings. Under the terms of the agreement, all 31 employees terminated over the last year in retaliation for union activity have been offered immediate and full reinstatement, and will receive back pay from the time they were fired. Of the terminated employees, 13 will immediately return to work at the popular Midtown diner. In addition, the restaurant is required to mail official notices to all employees, informing them that the company will not violate federal law by engaging in certain unlawful practices such as surveilling and threatening workers, interfering with their use of social media, and discouraging them from taking action to improve working conditions. For the singing servers, this has been a long road. The union, which is a branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), initially went public in late summer of 2016. Weeks after making their efforts known to management, 16 active union members were fired. Over the fall and winter, the workers continued to engage in direct workplace action to improve health and safety conditions, as well as pursue other demands. Another mass firing in January 2017 brought the total of terminated singers up to 31. Despite this, Stardust Family United remained active, both inside and outside the restaurant. “I’m thrilled and proud to know our struggle and vigilance over the last year has paid off,” says returning employee Matthew Patterson. “I’m looking forward to returning and making a positive impact inside the diner.” #Stardustfamilyunited #IWW #Wobblies #SFU #Singingunion #Labormovement #Workersrights #Solidarity #Weareallstardust read more[...]

Portland, OR: Fast Food Workers at Burgerville Launch Strike on Labor Day

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 01:54:04 +0000

By Staff - It's Going Down, September 4, 2017

(image) Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) launched a strike in Portland, Oregon at fast food chain Burgerville. The strike is the latest move by workers at the chain who have been organizing for months and demanding wage increases, an end to harassment for union activities, better schedules, and improvements of conditions. The group announced the strike on Labor Day with a statement on their Facebook page:

The very first Labor Day was a massive strike and parade organized by thousands of workers in New York City in 1882. The chance for millions and millions of people to spend time with family and community this Monday was made possible by power wielded time and time again by striking workers.

Ironically, we workers at Burgerville don’t get to enjoy this day dedicated to celebrating the power of workers. Working at Burgerville means we can’t take proper holidays, since doing so means taking a substantial pay cut or facing retaliation from management. Working at Burgerville means that we spend our holidays working for minimum wage just like any other day, fully aware of all the memories with friends and family we are missing out on.

That’s why we are going on strike today.

Instead of going to work for poverty wages while corporate bigshots take vacations, we are taking a stand. We are taking back Labor Day for our families, our friends, our coworkers, and ourselves. We are taking back Labor Day because we know that better pay, fair schedules, consistent hours, and healthier work environments have only ever been won by workers standing together and fighting for them.

We are the heart of Burgerville and we deserve a change!

The strike also takes place as fast food workers at McDonald’s in the UK are also on strike. Burgerville workers union writes:

McDonald’s workers at two shops in England voted to go on a strike on September 4. These workers are organized through the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), whose demands include wage increases and more consistent scheduling (Sound familiar?)

Immediately after the announcement of a strike, McDonald’s stated that by the end of 2017 they will implement a guaranteed hours contract to every McDonald’s worker in the UK. The BFAWU plans to carry on with their strike to push for their other demands and to hold McDonald’s to their word.

Victory to the strikers!

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Burgerville Workers Union Marches Forward; Community Support and Solidarity Continue Growing

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:47:08 +0000

Pete Shaw - Portland Occupier, July 19, 2017 The shakes–blackberry, chocolate hazelnut, and pumpkin spice–come and go. So do the Walla Walla onion rings, waffle fries, and asparagus. But since April of last year, solidarity has always been in season at Burgerville. Since its formation 15 months ago, the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU)–which is supported by the Portland Industrial Workers of the World–has been organizing for better working conditions on the job, greater benefits, and higher wages. Fighting against a management that promotes the Burgerville corporation as one which supports family values, local farmers, and sustainable practices, but treats its workers no differently than people have come to expect from larger fast food chains such as McDonald’s, the Burgerville Workers Union has slowly but surely been gathering steam in its struggle. However, Burgerville management has so far refused to talk with the union. On Friday July 14, the BVWU took another small but significant step toward pushing Burgerville’s management to start negotiating with it. A crowd of over 100 people picketed outside the Burgerville on Southeast 92nd and Powell during the early evening, virtually shutting down business at the store. On a hot night when one of the raspberry shakes would have made a delightful treat, only a few customers crossed the picket line. At a rally just prior to establishing the line, Mark Medina of the BVWU told the gathered crowd, “We’re gonna shut down the shop for a couple of hours and make corporate know that workers care about benefits, about wages, and that they want Burgerville to negotiate with the union and respect the rights of workers here in Portland, Oregon. This is a union town. They should respect our rights to organize.” That lack of respect was given official imprimatur when on June 22 Burgerville agreed to pay $10,000 to settle charges brought against it by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that between August 1 and August 15, 2015 the company willfully “failed to provide a meal period of not less than 30 continuous minutes during which the employee is relieved of all duties and/or failed to provide timely meal periods to twenty-eight employees” as required by law. Another 16 employees were also denied their 30-minute work-free meal period during a two-week period in December, 2016. In addition to those charges, BOLI found that Burgerville was “employing minors under 18 in hazardous and permitted occupation” when two 17 year old employees operated a trash compactor which Oregon law has declared “hazardous and detrimental to to the health of employees under the age of 18.” All charges pertained to the Burgerville store on NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, near the Oregon Convention Center. Brandon Doyle, BVWU Shop Leader at the SE 92nd and Powell Burgerville, is one of many Burgerville workers who has seen the company’s scarce regard for workers up close and personal. A few months ago Doyle was feeling ill to the point of vomiting while on the job. Instead of allowing him to go home and rest–as well as not risk getting Burgerville customers sick–Doyle’s manager insisted he remain at work. Fortunately, Doyle and his fellow workers contacted fellow union members from other stores, who then contacted Doyle’s manager, eventually resulting in Doyle being allowed to leave and likely helping prevent the spread of what ailed him. They had his back, and Doyle now wants to return the favor. read more[...]

Burgerville pays $10,000 to settle wage and hour violations

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 01:28:45 +0000

By staff - NW Labor Press, July 6, 2017

The Burgerville fast food chain — target of a 14-month union campaign to improve wages and working conditions — on June 22 agreed to pay $10,000 to settle charges that it willfully failed to give workers meal and rest breaks as required by law.

(image) Oregon law requires employers to provide paid rest periods of at least 10 minutes for each four-hour work period, and a duty-free meal period of at least 30 minutes when employees work six or more hours at a time.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) first wrote to Burgerville on April 7, 2016, saying it received information that the company may not have been providing rest breaks and meal periods at its Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard restaurant in Portland. The letter asked the company to review its practices and take immediate steps to correct the situation. Burgerville’s chief operating officer wrote back April 18 to say the company had retrained the entire management team and would meet with all 40 employees to make sure they know about the requirement that they take breaks.

But the practice continued: Two other employees complained in August, and BOLI sent another letter, and opened an investigation. The investigation found that over two-week periods in August and December 2016, managers “willfully” failed to provide meal periods to 28 and 16 employees respectively. Willful, in this case, is a legal term meaning the company knew about the requirement for meal breaks, and also knew that workers weren’t getting them. The agency found 44 violations total, and assessed $250 per violation, for $11,000 in all. BOLI also found three cases in which minors were performing a hazardous duty — operating a trash compactor — and assessed $250 per violation for those.

On June 2, 2017, the agency issued a notice that it intended to assess civil penalties of $11,750. The Vancouver-based fast food chain agreed to pay $10,000 to settle all the charges.

Burgerville Workers Union, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, has been campaigning since April 2016 for a $5 an hour raise, affordable health care, and other demands. The Oregon AFL-CIO and half a dozen other labor organizations have endorsed their campaign.

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“Proud to be part of a singing union”: the struggle at Ellen's Stardust Diner

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 22:07:44 +0000

By Chilli Sauce - Libcom.Org, March 5, 2017

(image) Ellen's Stardust Diner is a New York institution, a place where Broadway actors not only wait tables, but sing show tunes while they're at it. It's also the site of an ongoing labor dispute that has seen mass firings, strikes, protests, and picket lines that have turned away early morning food deliveries.

The employees at Ellen's have been organizing with the IWW for much of the past year. Their union, Stardust Family United, has been out on the streets, raising their voices and raising their fists to defend and improve working conditions.

Many Stardusters have worked at the restaurant on and off for years. To hear them tell it, Ellen's used to be a pretty nice place to work. Management were accommodating when it came to taking time off to be in a show. And despite the large numbers of wait staff and the time they take off for stage work, Ellen's was a tight-knit community. It was a place where workers developed their talents and built friendships that spanned decades.

All that changed last year when new management was brought in.

Managers ceased to be accommodating when it came to taking time off. Workers who raised safety issues or complained of sexual harassment were ignored or, worse yet, pushed out of the restaurant. Long-term workers, some whom had racked up years of service in the double digits, were unceremoniously let go.

So the idea came about to form a union. Workers contacted a couple of local unions and the IWW proved the most responsive, quickly arranging an organizer training for the Stardust staff. The workers found the IWW's model of solidarity unionism, which stresses rank-and-file control and a direct action approach to organizing, to be an asset to the solidarity they'd already built up in the workplace.

For a while, organizing occurred under the radar. Issues of health and safety were raised and workers used the internal communication system to pressure management. Workers also organized a successful march on the boss to get their tip bucket back and it was after this point the workers decided to go public as a union. The venue through which they chose to do this: The New York Times.

Workers hadn't filed for a labor board election, instead demanding owner Ken Sturm deal with them directly.

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Burgerville Workers Unite!

Wed, 11 May 2016 22:39:58 +0000

(image) By Admin - Portland IWW, May 1, 2016

Portland, OR – In a historic move, workers at Portland-area fast food chain Burgerville announced at a rally in the Clinton Street Theater on April 26th that they were forming a union, the Burgerville Workers Union, in affiliation with the Portland branch of the IWW. They marched from the theater to the Burgerville location at Southeast 26th and Clinton to present their demands:

  • an immediate $5 an hour raise
  • affordable, quality healthcare
  • a safe and healthy workplace
  • fair and consistent scheduling with ample notice
  • a supportive, sustainable workplace including paid maternity/paternity leave
  • free childcare and transportation stipends

A typical Burgerville worker makes only $9.60 an hour, and is typically scheduled just 26 hours a week, just under the 30 hours a week which would make them eligible to receive benefits. That equals out to about $990 a month before taxes. To put that into perspective, the average apartment rent in Portland is $1,275 a month for a one bedroom apartment, and most apartment complexes require prospective tenants income to exceed 3 times the amount of the rent.

“Most people can’t even afford to have an apartment. In Portland, everyone knows that the cost of living is insane. It basically took me a second job to be able to have a place of my own. I couldn’t afford it with what Burgerville pays me,” said Greg, Burgerville worker and union member.

Other workers cited problems with management’s uncaring attitude toward their employees: “I need to be able to take a sick day without fear of retaliation,” stated Robert, a Burgerville worker at the Powell location.

The workers forming the Burgerville Workers Union represent a cross-section of the community – young people, seniors, mothers, fathers, students, and grandparents. They put passion into their work, and want to improve their workplaces for themselves, their co-workers, and the community.

“We’re trying to make Burgerville a better place – I just want to be able to do my job and be paid a living wage. This is going to make Burgerville better, by having happy employees that work hard and are proud of their jobs” said Debbie, Burgerville Worker Union member.

The Burgerville Workers Union is supported by the Portland IWW and endorsed by a coalition of local unions and community groups, including ILWU Local 5, IATSE Local 28, SEIU Local 49, Portland Association of Teachers, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Portland Solidarity Network (PDXSol), Portland Jobs with Justice, Blue Heron Collective (Reed College), Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Alberta Cooperative Grocery Collective Management, Hella 503 Collective, Marilyn Buck Abolitionist Collective and People’s Food Co-op.

To lend your support and solidarity, check out the Burgerville Workers Union website.

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Burgerville Workers Union has gone public!

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:05:58 +0000

By DJ Acid Rick - Portland IWW, April 26, 2016

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Learn more about the Burgerville Workers Union, and how you can get involved.

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What’s outrageous? Unpaid wages! Report from solidarity demo

Thu, 19 Nov 2015 22:38:09 +0000

By Communications Officer - Bristol IWW, November 14, 2015 Fellow Wobblies and supporters, Bristol Communications Officer here to report on the wet but very successful solidarity demo held this morning in Bristol outside Cafe Amore! We organised the demo in solidarity with Fellow Worker Bonny, who worked at Cafe Amore for a while and was not paid the full wages she was owed after quitting. Bristol IWW union representative assisted her in writing a demand letter to the cafe’s boss, which Bonny then delivered by hand a week ago accompanied by fellow Wobblies. During the week, the boss paid her some of the money she was owed but not all of it, and didn’t provide a clear explanation as to why he couldn’t pay the whole amount, and when he would do so. So, on we went this Saturday to hold a solidarity demo demanding the cafe’s boss to pay Bonny her wages, as well as to highlight the bad practices that Cafe Amore use on their staff – unpaid trials, underpaying migrant staff, and forced unpaid overtime. Despite the relentless rain, we had a very successful demonstration attended by around 30 people, with many members and supporters of the IWW, and members of Bristol SolNet. Before the start of the demo, Bonny went in the cafe accompanied by her union rep and other members of the IWW to renew her demand and hand out flyers to customers. The boss was very aggressive towards them, making excuses as to why he hadn’t been able to pay Bonny’s full wages, and being very vague as to when he would pay her the remaining amount. He then went on to tell another IWW member who was trying to talk to customers to “get out of here or I’ll beat you up” in front of all the customers. We stood outside the cafe for an hour, handing out flyers and singing songs in support of Bonny, and having lots of fun Wobbly-style! Lots of passers-by stopped to ask us what was going on and expressed interest and support for Bonny and what we were doing. But, Cafe Amore’s boss still hasn’t paid Bonny all the money she’s owed! Bristol IWW will carry on holding weekly solidarity demos outside Cafe Amore until Bonny’s paid up all the money she’s owed. Keep checking our blog and, especially, our Facebook page and Twitter feed (links on the right) and, if Bonny still doesn’t get paid, see you on Saturday 21 November at 12pm outside Cafe Amore (which is on Nelson Street, next to Holland & Barrett). Or, as we put it today in our chants: Pay Bonny her money and we’ll go away / Pay Bonny her money or we’re here to stay! Do you also work in the bar & hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, catering, etc? Does any of this sound familiar to you? The IWW has just launched a campaign to support and organise workers in these businesses. You can read our statement here: statement. We have also written an article on local paper “The Bristol Cable” highlighting the issues of bar & hospitality workers in Bristol. You can read it here: article. If Bonny’s situation sounds familiar to you, and you need help and support to stand up to bully bosses who don’t pay wages and treat their workers like doormats, email us at We are a grassroots union that uses direct action methods to support workers to fight back for their rights. This is what we can offer you: training to know Employment Law and (where possible) use it to get what you want; training to represent your Fellow Workers in grievance and disciplinary meetings; training to organise your co-workers so you can speak as one voice, and get more influence over what goes on at work; and, finally, TRAINING TO WIN – better terms and conditions, better pay, and less bullying from your boss! read more[...]

Concrete examples of non labour relations board unions: Part III

Thu, 19 Nov 2015 22:28:21 +0000

By Phinneas Gage - Recomposition, November 6, 2015 This is the third part of a series of concrete examples (Part I – Part II) and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following examples are from the IWWs organising efforts in food service. This includes fast food as well as grocery stores in a lot of the examples the IWW actually engaged in innovative organising that broke ground in more high profile campaigns like the well known “Fight for Fifteen” campaigns around raising the minimum wage in the USA. 4. The IWW in Food Service a). The Jimmy John’s Workers Union The Jimmy John’s Workers Union started as an effort by the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW to organise in Fast Food. The campaign at it’s height had shop committees in multiple shops and a city wide committee. Ultimately, the campaign made a decision to go for an NLRB election and only failed by two votes with 85 in favour and 87 against. After that point the campaign went into steep decline but the organisers still managed to create an impressive track record of gains for themselves and their co-workers including: reversing decisions by management to fire people, addressing health and safety concerns for delivery drivers, tips jars, a city wide pay raise, and scheduling issues as well as countless smaller individual grievances in their shops. There is still an underground IWW presence in many shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore. Advantages: Large numbers of workers mobilised. A city wide organisation spanning at all ten shops in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) at its height. Coordination through city wide mass meetings. The media work on this campaign was impressive including making the New York Times. Impressive gains before, during, and after the failed certification election. Disadvantages: Campaign wasn’t merely oriented towards a youth counter culture, it celebrated it and was itself a function of it. Substance abuse on the campaign was a major issue and led to key organisers putting their jobs at risk and getting injured unnecessarily. Logistically it was very lax with campaign data, mostly being kept in the personal notebooks of key organisers. Many organisers were also goal oriented to the point of certification becoming an all or nothing proposition and the campaign slowly contracted as key people moved on to other projects after the certification campaign failed, despite efforts to downplay the legal process by some organisers. As well the ability to join the JJWU campaign but not the IWW also created a tiered membership that made it ambiguous as to who was actually a member and difficult to consolidate membership beyond just the shop. Ultimately failed to bridge some of the demographic divides in the industry. What happened? There is still an underground IWW presence in some shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore. After the certification election six key organisers were fired over a publicity stunt involving a fight for sick days and the NLRB process is now on its last appeal several years later. The campaign is an impressive achievement for an all volunteer union on a shoe string budget. b). The Starbucks Workers Union Where the Jimmy John’s Workers Union in the Twin Cities peaked at a failed certification election the Starbucks Workers Union really got going after a failed attempt at certification. In 2003 wobblies started organising at a Starbucks in Manhattan. In 2004 they tried for a union certification election. The National Labour Relations Board defined their bargaining unit as every Starbucks in Manhattan. which for an organising committee of only a handful bec[...]

Hotel Frank(enstein) becomes Hotel G(oofy)

Sun, 13 Sep 2015 18:17:41 +0000

By Marc Norton - Marc Norton Online, September 8, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. The author is a member of the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch and UNITEHERE Local 2.

(image) Almost five years after I was illegally fired from my job as a bellman at Hotel Frank, the current owners of the Union Square hotel at Geary and Mason (now called Hotel G) are telling guests that there is no luggage service, that if they want to get their bags to or from their rooms they are on their own, and that if they want to store their luggage there is a roped-off area in the lobby where they can dump their bags, without any guarantee that they will be there when they want to retrieve them.

Hotel management recently instituted this goofy practice in order to keep me from coming back to work at the hotel.  Quite a backhanded complement to my perceived organizing and troublemaking ability, don’t you think?

Here is an email that Matthew Rubenstein, the Associate Sales & Social Media Manager at Hotel G, sent to a potential guest:

We do have a place in the lobby where you can store the luggage – it is a roped-off area by the front desk.  Unfortunately we cannot transport the bags up to the room.

And this, also from Mr. Rubenstein, responding to a question about the security of the “roped-off area” in the lobby:

Personally, if it were me I would be fine leaving anything outside of laptops/cameras etc.

Here is a photo of the “roped-off area” in the lobby.  Note that there is a woman, presumably a hotel guest, going through some of the stored luggage:


Note that the luggage is blocking a doorway.  That is the door to the stairs from the basement, where the housekeeping office and the employee break room are located.  With this door blocked, the only access to the basement is via the elevator.  I wonder what the Fire Marshal might think of this.

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