Report from Little Big Union on a recent firing of an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer in Portland, Oregon.
On July 10th, Little Big Burger fired another union leader. After working at the Northwest 23rd location for over 2 years, Cam was terminated in front of the store surrounded by district management, HR consultants, and the President of Chanticleer Holdings, the North Carolina-based corporation that owns Little Big Burger. Why? He allegedly failed to refill napkins and fry sauce containers on one closing shift a few days prior. To our knowledge, no other worker has ever been fired for such an infraction. In his termination meeting Cam asked about this and his regional manager replied with a non-answer: “This is not about anyone else, this is about you.” Management went even beyond firing him under dubious circumstances, as corporate threatened to call the police if he ever returned to any Little Big Burger locations.
The timing of this firing and ban makes things a bit more clear. This came in the middle of an active union election cycle, where workers are currently voting on whether Little Big Burger will be forced to bargain with their union. Cam was fired because Little Big Burger is union busting and does not want workers who speak up and stand by one another. Cam is devoted to his co-workers and making a healthy environment to work in for everybody. He’s known across many Little Big Burger stores for his friendliness and commitment to improving working conditions. Less than a year ago he was offered the store manager position, and just last month was praised by management as “one of the best trainers we have.”
Workers like Cam go from being “good” employees to “bad” employees when management learns of their union affiliation. Cam is the SEVENTH union worker to be fired since the union was announced March 16th, 2019. That’s 7% of the entire workforce voting in the current election, when ballots are counted in two weeks. Corporate is attempting to foster a culture of fear and confusion for workers who promote the union. That’s against the law, and the National Labor Relations Board agrees. This month, the NLRB has begun to find merit in favor of workers who were fired or disciplined as targets of “gross retaliation” by Little Big Burger management. Despite this, Little Big Burger chose to continue ignoring the law by firing Cam. In their calculation, it was worth it to try and tip the election. Cam is a beloved Little Big Union member and though we are not surprised, we are furious. Their tactics are transparent, their firings are targeted, and we will win anyway.
“All management has been doing is stoke fear and division,” Cam said to Northwest Labor Press. “All we can do is provide mutual aid, be there, and try to improve one another’s lives. That’s a message that resonates much better than fear and division.” We agree!
Please consider contributing to our “Strike and Hardship Fund” to support unionists like Cam who face financial hardship after being retaliated against for standing up for what is right.