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Apr 7, 23

Burgerville Fires IWW Shop Steward as New Contract Draws Near; Union Vows, “We Will Escalate”

The Burgerville Workers Union, part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), is reporting that a shop steward and member of the union’s bargaining team was “wrongfully terminated” on April 3rd.

In 2018 the Burgerville Workers Union made history, becoming the first labor union recognized by a fast food chain after years of strikes, direct actions, and protests by workers. In 2021, the Burgerville Workers Union reached a tentative agreement with corporate after a long battle over negotiations and workers note that this contract expires on May 1st.

According to a statement from the union:

Burgerville has wrongfully terminated union leader Ashley Johnston today April 3, 2023. A member of the bargaining team, a shop steward, a single mother. The 2nd Native American shop steward fired this year. She is in distress for herself and her child’s well being.

As we have come closer to bargaining in April for our successor contract, the company has begun a war of retaliation against workers, particularly union activists. We will defend her and all other members & working class community to the hilt, we will not be deterred. We are calling on community to support her in this time. We suspect others will be targeted as well. Please answer our call for solidarity, support our strike and hardship fund to help now.

From the GoFundMe:

The Burgerville Workers Union is a rank and file democratic union. In December of 2021 after over 3 years of bargaining, 7 strikes, countless actions we ratified our first contract. In April we begin negotiating our successor contract ahead of its May Day expiration.

In the lead up to this Burgerville corporate has escalated it’s hostility and begun waging a war of retaliation and union busting. Workers active in the union have been targeted. On April 3, 2023, Ashley Johnston, a single mother, shop steward at the Hawthorne Burgerville was wrongfully terminated by corporate for engaging in concerted protected activity. She is the 2nd Native American shop steward to be wrongfully fired this year. Other workers are being disciplined as well.

As we enter negotiations we know that corporate will not listen unless forced, concede to workers needs unless pressed. Power concedes nothing without a demand. As a member led, volunteer union, we know we have only been able to win because of the support of community. A strong strike and hardship fund would ensure workers have the power to wage a strong fight at the picketline and bargaining table, as well as support working people as they face injustice and loss of income/housing insecurity due to immoral and illegal actions by corporate.

We are humbly asking the community that supports workers, workplace democracy, and a militant labor movement, to answer our call of solidarity. Please stand shoulder to shoulder with our members, our families and our shared community to make a better world for all and donate to our Strike and Hardship Fund. An Injury to One is an Injury to All.

On Twitter the union stated, “We will not take this lying down. We will defend our members [and] working class community to the hilt. Most restaurant workers are within one missing check of housing insecurity. An illegal retaliatory firing by a thin skinned corporate goon is an act of economic violence on workers. We will escalate as a result of this. Our contract expires on May 1st.”

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