Mirisata restaurant goes union


A unit of eight employees is forming a union at Mirisata, a vegan Sri Lankan restaurant at 2420 SE Belmont St. in Portland.

The restaurant is run as a cooperative: Currently there are eight employee owners and eight non-owner employees. Seven of the eight non-owners presented signed union cards to management Feb. 16, asking for a response to the union campaign within 48 hours.

Earlier today, the owner-employees voluntarily recognized the Mirisata Workers Union. The organization has not yet formally affiliated with any other union.  The organization has affiliated with the Portland branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

It’s unusual to form a union at a co-op, and workers at the restaurant say it might appear redundant to have both structures in place. But they see a need for union representation, and say it will complement the co-op model. At Mirisata, there is a pathway for workers to become owners, but part-time workers are not eligible. And the restaurant industry is a high-turnover field.

“One big thing that was on all of our minds is that there will always be workers at this business, and we want them to have representation,” Hannah Gioia, a Mirisata line cook and spokesperson for the union, told the Labor Press.

The union plans to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board and work out its priorities for a first contract. Gioia said the broad goals include job security, a voice in scheduling, clearly articulated duties, and health and safety on the job.



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