Burgerville Reverses Decision to Ban 'Black Lives Matter' Buttons

By Donald Orr (OPB)
June 15, 2020 12:27 a.m.

Following backlash from the Burgerville Workers Union, the Vancouver-based fast-food chain will now allow employees to wear buttons and clothing that support the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality — so long as they’re produced and approved by the company itself.

“Burgerville stands with Black Lives Matter. As a company that cares deeply about the health and resiliency of our region, we stand in solidarity with those seeking justice and advocating for an inclusive society,” the company said in a statement.

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“We encourage our employees to express their support for the BLM movement, and are working as quickly as we can to develop accessories (buttons, t-shirts, stickers, etc.) that align to our uniform standards, and demonstrate our commitments and our solidarity.”

The move comes after a statement Thursday from the Burgerville Workers Union, saying it planned to respond by taking the fast-food chain to court after managers reportedly threatened to discipline workers for wearing union buttons saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd.”

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The union-made buttons in question show support for global protests against police brutality and systemic racism against Black people, following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others.

"We are encouraged that Burgerville corporate has finally realized what Burgerville workers have known all along — that Black Lives Matter. This change directly resulted from action by Burgerville workers on the job, who have been fighting for years for their right to support BLM at work,” the union said in a statement.

Despite the company’s reversal, union members find the move disingenuous due to corporate branding.

“The company-issued buttons also contain the Burgerville logo, an obvious attempt to link the message of Black Lives Matter to Burgerville’s brand. Moreover, they also all have the hashtag “AlliesforChange,” the union said in a statement.

“Asking all workers, especially Black workers, to self-identify as an “ally” in this moment ignores the ways in which some Burgerville workers are not merely allies, but directly and substantially impacted by police violence in their communities. The union will continue to fight for the right of Burgerville workers to wear buttons declaring that Black Lives Matter without additional branding and hashtag.”

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