Burgerville announced Friday that it reached an agreement with a union to create the first fast-food labor contract in the U.S., the restaurant said. 

The deal involves the Burgerville Workers Union, which represents five of the chain’s 40 locations. The tentative agreement came after three years and 51 negotiation sessions. The contract will be approved if it receives full ratification from union members as well as Burgerville leaders. That’s expected to take place before the end of 2021. 

Under the contract, which would apply to all employees systemwide, workers receive wage increases that are 25 cents per hour higher than Oregon or Washington’s minimum wage requirement, until the starting wage is $15. Burgerville began implementing this policy two years ago and now offers $14.25 per hour as a minimum wage. The contract also calls for tipping to be allowed in restaurants, which results in an average increase of over $2 per hour for each employee. Burgerville instituted this policy in 2019, as well.

“I am so pleased to reach an agreement that serves Burgerville employees, who are the heart of this company,” Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor said in a statement. “The vision we hold is for the Pacific Northwest to be the healthiest region on the planet, and we will keep investing in Burgerville employees, the communities we serve, and the region’s farmers and ranchers as one team.”  

To support employee health and wellbeing, the agreement includes expanded sick leave, vacation benefits, and paid parental leave.

The agreement would allow workers to get paid for vacation days immediately, as opposed to receiving a lump sump on the anniversary of their employment, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Additionally, Burgerville has used Oregon’s predictive scheduling law that mandates employers distribute employee schedules two weeks in advance, but with the contract, workers would get a three-month schedule.

“That will give long-term security to workers to know how much money they’re making, what their hours are going to be, what they have to plan for if they have children,” union organizer Mark Medina told the publication. 

Burgerville is headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, and employs around 800 people at 40 locations in Oregon and Washington. In 2006, Burgerville became one of the first quick-service restaurants to offer affordable health insurance to hourly employees. 

“Burgerville has always valued employees and invested in their well-being. As the first in the fast food restaurant industry to offer affordable health care to part-time employees in 2006, it’s no surprise to be the first with a union contract,” Taylor said. “What a great way to celebrate our 60th birthday year. I hope the agreement will be ratified quickly and a contract signed before the  end of the year.”

Union efforts are also formulating at three Starbucks locations in Buffalo. According to several media reports, union election ballots were mailed to workers at these locations on November 10, after the coffee chain sought to delay the move so the vote could include all stores in the area.

Kayla Blado, press secretary for the National Labor Relations Board, told ABC News that the ballots won’t be counted until the board decides whether to review Starbucks’ request to delay the election. If the request is denied, the ballots will be counted December 9. If it is granted, a new date will be chosen. 

If the three locations vote in favor of a union, they would become the first unionized Starbucks stores out of more than 8,000 company-run units in the U.S. The group is supported by Workers United Upstate, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union.

Earlier this year, employees of Colectivo Coffee voted to unionize by a 106 to 99 margin. The union will comprise comprise about 440 employees, with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as the group’s bargaining representative. Previously, Buffalo-based Spot Coffee was the largest unionized cafe with around 130 members.

Employee Management, Story, Burgerville