Another regional restaurant chain faces a surge in unionization


Employees at a Tudor’s Biscuit World in Elkview, W.Va. have applied to federal regulators to form a union, adding the 90-unit homestyle chain to a rapidly growing list of restaurant companies facing challenges. active organizational efforts.

Staff members have asked the National Labor Relations Board to schedule a vote on whether to be represented by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), a union that claims 1.3 million members in supermarket sectors, retail and health, among others.

Local reports indicate that the store employs around 25 people, although that figure could not be confirmed with Tudor’s, a regional brand popular in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The franchisor has not responded at press time to Restaurant Business’s request for comment.

According to the UFCW, employees of the Elkview restaurant were pushed into action because they were “understaffed, underpaid and mistreated by senior management.” The organization’s proponents also alleged that COVID-19 protocols were not being diligently enforced.

The UFCW says a majority of Elkview employees are in favor of forming a union.

Their stated motivation differs from the justification given by other groups of employees who seek to organize their restaurant workplaces. Many, especially the baristas at three Starbucks units in Buffalo, NY, stressed that they had no fault with their employer and were organizing to have more influence over the strategic direction of their respective brands.

Employees of these three Starbucks units are currently voting by mail on whether to be represented by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Three other Buffalo stores are awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board on their demands for a union organizing vote, as is an isolated Starbucks coffee shop in Mesa, Arizona.

The owner-operator of Darwin’s, a chain of four coffee shops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has agreed to cooperate in the formation of a collective bargaining unit by his employees.

Unions have already been formed by several other small to medium-sized chains, including Colectivo Coffee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago; Café Spot in Buffalo; and five units of Burgerville, the Oregon-based quick service brand.

Most of these organizing efforts came in spurts after decades of unions failing to gain a foothold in restaurant chains.

The UFCW has not been involved in these recent organizing efforts. West Virginia media say Tudor employees were drawn to this union because many had family ties to the union. These reports also noted that West Virginia is a stronghold of union activity.

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