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Burgerville closes Portland cafe close to homeless encampment

A tent encampment abuts the Burgerville in Portland’s Lents neighborhood on August 4, 2021. The corporation mentioned safety problems prompted it to temporarily close the restaurant.

Kate Davidson / OPB

Burgerville announced Tuesday it is temporarily closing its restaurant on Southeast 92nd Avenue in Portland. The Vancouver-primarily based speedy-food stuff chain cited improved crime and vandalism connected to a close by homeless encampment as the trigger for the closure. The restaurant in the Lents neighborhood has built information right before. It was the initial Burgerville to unionize several many years in the past — a traditionally complicated feat in the fast-foodstuff field.

“While it saddens me to temporarily shut this Burgerville, I will often set the security and protection of our employees to start with. All workforce from this restaurant will be made available positions in other nearby spots,” claimed Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor in a created assertion.

The announcement caught Burgerville’s union flat-footed.

“This comes as a finish shock to the union. This has by no means been hinted at,” said Mark Medina with the Burgerville Staff Union. “We meet up with with the organization regularly and we have been fully blindsided by this.”

The union scrambled to discuss with personnel from the keep, wherever Medina stated he worked right until getting laid off in March 2020. Their reviews were nevertheless coming in as a result of the day.

Medina reported the close by houseless encampment, near to a MAX station, was “significant” in measurement. But he also said he achieved consistently with employees from the cafe, who didn’t flag conflicts with the nearby camp as a major situation.

“It’s unbelievably curious that this would be the situation to shut down the to start with unionized quickly-meals place in the corporation. And a flagship for the union,” he claimed.

The media assertion from company leaders emphasised that they don’t intend for the Lents locale to shut completely.

“My hope is this will be a non permanent closure, and that we can function with the leaders in Multnomah County, the Town of Portland, and the Condition of Oregon to increase problems in communities during the Northwest,” Taylor stated. “It is not just Burgerville. Other organizations are getting impacted far too. There is a humanitarian disaster going on all over our region, and we need to appear with each other about answers.”

Portland residents and businesses have struggled with the increase of homeless encampments in a town desperately brief on shelter and reasonably priced housing. Though the town strategies to open up 6 outside shelters for people enduring homelessness, it has also swept encampments from areas this sort of as Laurelhurst Park.

Burgerville claimed it hired private protection in December, as situations in the community deteriorated. But the circumstance worsened. A spokesperson for the enterprise mentioned staff found weapons, drug paraphernalia and human squander on the property and that law enforcement ended up called consistently — even though, they explained, no police reviews were filed.

A needle by the entrance of the Burgerville in Portland's Lents neighborhood on August 4, 2021, the morning after the restaurant's closure. The company said safety concerns prompted the temporary shutdown.

A needle by the entrance of the Burgerville in Portland’s Lents neighborhood on August 4, 2021, the early morning soon after the restaurant’s closure. The organization said basic safety concerns prompted the temporary shutdown.

Kate Davidson / OPB

Staff did not receive progress detect of the closure but have been as an alternative notified Tuesday, according to the business. Employees who were scheduled to perform did, the company said, largely cleaning the cafe. Burgerville reiterated that employees would be presented positions at other locations.

“I can guarantee you under no circumstances is this union-busting. This is putting the health and fitness and security of staff and friends initially,” mentioned the corporation spokesperson, who declined to be named.

Medina stated the Burgerville Employees Union plans to cost the company with an unfair labor follow by submitting a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. He stated unilateral adjustments to doing work situations are not permitted all through deal negotiations.

Burgerville mentioned it hadn’t resolved how extensive the retail outlet would be shut or below what problems it would reopen.

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