Afuri restaurant union proves short-lived


The independent union Restaurant Workers of Portland no longer represents workers at Afuri Ramen + Dumpling in downtown Portland. In a “disclaimer of interest” letter sent to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Feb. 22, the union acknowledged it no longer had the support of a majority of the restaurant’s 18 workers. The NLRB had been scheduled that day to hold a decertification election — in which workers vote whether to go non-union — but canceled the election after receiving the disclaimer.

Afuri employees had voted 16-0 to join the union just 13 months prior.

Portland Jobs with Justice organizer Mark Medina, who helped Afuri workers with the original organizing campaign, said all of the workers who took part in the January 2023 vote have since left Afuri.

Medina said independent unions have no staff and few legal resources, so much of their success depends on members staying self-organized. 

“There’s going to be fits and starts. There’s going to be experiments,” Medina said. “We can either be afraid of that and therefore guarantee we will not succeed, or we can learn from those lessons and go back at it.” 


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