Portland, OR – A burger chain appears to have reversed course and banned employees from wearing political pins after employees had declared victory over the issue of wearing "Abolish ICE" and "Black Lives Matter" pins at work.
A group of Burgerville employees had been sent home for wearing pins which said “Black Lives Matter,” “No one is illegal,” and “Abolish ICE.” They alleged that the company's actions were a form of “white supremacy.”
Burgerville then agreed to give back pay to the 10 employees who were sent home.
The Burgerville Workers Union declared victory in a Facebook post, and the company's response emboldened them to make even more demands.
“WE DEMAND a formal apology to the crew at Montavilla for forcing them to decide between their jobs and supporting the fight against white supremacy and WE DEMAND that the button policy support of freedom of expression and explicitly be against white supremacy,” the post read.
The union also called on the company to denounce “prisons and detention centers” as being a form of “white supremacy,” and declared that such facilities “must be abolished for our communities to be free.”
The group is currently pushing for a bargaining contract with the corporation, and have demanded “protections for immigrant workers,” as well as a $5 per hour wage increase, medical benefits, and paid holidays, The Oregonian reported.
After we covered the incident, the company responded to the union by saying that they only backed down on enforcing the button policy because it wasn't in writing yet. Burgerville has now implemented a written policy against political buttons, according to Fox News.
The union is now blaming a "horde of right-wing bigots" for pressuring the company to enforce the policy, according to The Oregonian.
"Within twenty-four hours of the swell of right wing outrage, Burgerville corporate gave in to the demands of internet racists by reimposing the button ban of “personal” and “political” buttons," the union posted on Facebook. "Burgerville wants to be seen as a sustainable and progressive company, but instantly sides with racist customers and commenters over their own workers. When given the choice between racism and justice, Burgerville has chosen racism."
The company claims that the backlash isn't what caused the reversal, but that they just hadn't fully implemented the policy before they enforced it.
"Our fight over buttons is about something much bigger–it’s about standing up for and as undocumented workers and workers of color, it’s about standing against police brutality and violent deportations, and it’s about standing against Burgerville’s voluntary cooperation with ICE and discriminatory practices in hiring, firing, and scheduling. The BVWU has made ourselves clear: white supremacy threatens us in and outside of work, and to say our buttons are too political for the workplace is to say our lives are too political for the workplace," the union said.