By DON McINTOSH
Burgerville Workers Union won one of the restaurant industry’s highest honors March 29: A James Beard Foundation award. The annual James Beard Awards are best known for honoring top chefs and restaurants, but the foundation also presents a leadership award to “individuals and/or organizations whose work is helping to create a safer, more healthful, equitable, and sustainable food world.” The Portland-area fast food union was one of six leadership award winners this year—for successfully negotiating the country’s first-ever fast-food union contract in 2021.
“The contract provisions included wage increases, paid vacation time, in-store tipping at all unionized locations, and an end to at-will employment,” the foundation said, explaining the award. “The 2021 contract applied to five of the fast-food chain’s stores in the Pacific Northwest and has since inspired union action at other food service businesses across the country.”