Will workers bring Little Big Burger’s Little Big Union to Capitol Hill? — UPDATE: Now open

(Image: Little Big Union)

Portland’s Little Big Burger is coming to Capitol Hill soon. iIs workers could bring a fast food labor movement here, too.

In mid-March, Little Big Burger workers in Portland, led by staff at one location, went public with their decision to unionize, a rarity for fast food personnel, following issues of safety, scheduling, and what it says are inadequate pay raises. After talking to workers at other locations of the chain, workers realized that their concerns were widespread across restaurants.

“Conditions, you know, needed to change,” said Cameron Crowell, a union member who has worked at Little Big Burger in Portland for two years.

The union’s demands include $5 raises, two weeks of both paid sick leave and vacation time, fair and consistent scheduling ahead of time, and time and a half for all federal holidays, according to its website.

Little Big Union, as it is called, has yet to be federally recognized, however. For that to happen, the restaurant’s management and ownership would have to voluntarily recognize their existence, or the union would have to conduct an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

Little Big Burger “stands to become the second fast food company in the history of the United States to enter into a collective bargaining relationship with a union,” littlebigunion.org says.

Crowell says it’s unclear how many members the union has exactly due to high turnover in the industry, but he says an overwhelming majority of workers in the Portland-area are signed up. Little Big Union is part of the Industrial Workers of the World, a Chicago-based labor union.

Currently, only workers in Portland have decided to join the union, but the chain has three locations in North Carolina, one in Texas, one in Wallingford, and two more coming to Seattle: 12th and Pike and Green Lake.

“We definitely encourage them to, you know, organize together, meet up outside of work, and you know replicate what we’re doing,” said Crowell, noting that he hasn’t personally heard interest from other cities to unionize. “We know that the problems that we have in Portland are not isolated.”

“We have a model that’s, like, replicable.”

Little Big Burger was gobbled up by Chanticleer Holdings in 2015, a North Carolina-based company that owns Hooters and several other burger restaurants.

“Their eyes have been so much on expansion that they’ve completely neglected, like, the workplaces in Portland that are like the heart of Little Big Burger,” Crowell said.

Recently, managers made some workers come in early for a deep clean at one restaurant, assuring them that all the general managers would be there and helping. Only one of the four general managers showed up, while the others were up in Seattle working on opening a new store, according to Crowell.

Crowell, who serves, cooks, and washes dishes, says that the company has acted pro-employee in public, but behind the scenes is a different story. People have been written up for small infractions and union posters were torn down in one shop’s break area due to an anti-solicitation policy, according to Crowell. The company is now allowing the posters to go up.

In a statement, Little Big Burger said “LBB and its management support and respect our associates’ rights to join a labor union, as well as their right not to join a union.”

“We believe that this is an important decision, and not one that our associates should make lightly. We also believe that it is our responsibility as a pro-employee employer to ensure that all of our team members receive the information that they need to make an informed choice.”

Little Big Burger is set to open at 1200 E Pike soon. You can learn more at littlebigburger.com.

UPDATE 4/22/2019: Little Big Burger is now open on Capitol Hill —

Chanticleer Holdings Announces Opening of Little Big Burger Capitol Hill in Seattle

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Chanticleer Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:BURG) (“Chanticleer” or the “Company”), owner, operator, and franchisor of multiple nationally recognized restaurant brands, today announced the opening of its newest Seattle Little Big Burger, located in the Capitol Hill area.

The soft opening was held this weekend, while the grand opening and free burger day are expected to be held in the near-term, both of which will be announced through social media.

The 2,500 sq. ft. restaurant will be positioned at the base of the Beryl Building on 12th Avenue and East Pike Street. Capitol Hill, Seattle’s most densely populated neighborhood with over 30,000 residents, boasts a bustling restaurant scene and is one of the city’s most prominent nightlife and entertainment districts.

Fred Glick, Chanticleer Holdings President stated, “We’re pleased to announce the opening of our newest Little Big Burger in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle. The Little Big Burger brand born out of Oregon with just eight original locations has now reached 20 plus with a footprint also now in Charlotte, Seattle and Texas. We are excited about this location and anticipate it being one of our top performers.”

About Chanticleer Holdings, Inc.

Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Chanticleer Holdings owns, operates, and franchises fast, casual, and full-service restaurant brands, including American Burger Company, BGR – Burgers Grilled Right, Little Big Burger, Just Fresh, and Hooters. For more information, please visit: www.chanticleerholdings.com.

About Little Big Burger

Little Big Burger (“LBB”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chanticleer Holdings, Inc. Founded in Portland, OR in 2010, LBB is a counter service, fast-casual restaurant concept offering fresh, high quality cooked-to-order burgers, truffle fries and root beer floats. LBB has developed a cult-like following in the Pacific Northwest by offering a simple menu focused on delicious quality, served in a hip atmosphere. Parties interested in franchise opportunities should send an email to mp@chanticleerholdings.com or visit www.littlebigburger.com.

Forward-Looking Statements:

Any statements that are not historical facts contained in this release are “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), which statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “plans,” “projects,” “will,” “may,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “should,” “intends,” “estimates,” and other words of similar meaning. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, involve known and unknown risks, a reliance on third parties for information, transactions or orders that may be cancelled, and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements, or developments in our industry, to differ materially from the anticipated results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from anticipated results include risks and uncertainties related to the fluctuation of global economic conditions, the performance of management and our employees, our ability to obtain financing or required licenses, competition, general economic conditions and other factors that are detailed in our periodic reports and on documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date the statements were made, and the companies do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements. We intend that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the PSLRA.

Contact Information:

Investor Relations
Jason Assad


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26 thoughts on “Will workers bring Little Big Burger’s Little Big Union to Capitol Hill? — UPDATE: Now open

  1. First rent control, now fast food unions. We need to shut our border with Oregon before this stuff gets across. We prefer pay transparency and an extra scoop of ice cream for working weekends.

  2. Good, unions are important. They protect workers wages and rights. Capitalists hate unions, why? Because they eek into the bottom line profits. Oh well, you are currently dealing with humans and not robot workers. So yea, as humans we won’t agree to every demand a company puts on us. So we will create unions and fight for our rights against the greed and hate that the wealthy business class wants. They see unions and the workers as do nothings. Well that do nothing is creating your burger, your food. That do nothing has a family and a life. Just like you do. But if you can eek out that extra dollar from the do nothing, you feel much better. Don’t let that do nothing hold you hostage in an alley with a gun (their union). That’s wrong in your eyes.

    Guess what, unions are coming back as workers are rising up against the corporate greed and jabba the hut gross corporate obesity. Get used to it.

    I’m a manager and I fight for the wages of my staff. There are good people that fight for their staff (like Molly Moons). But unions are not for me or for Molly. They are for those that will not fight for their staff.

    • I am not anti-union, but the fact is that unions are not “coming back.” To the contrary, union membership has steadily declined in the past few decades.

  3. I’m always surprised at the discrepancy of the general vibes of the neighborhood (liberal, progressive, inclined to activism) and the handful of CHS readers with deep conservative leanings.

    Their demands (“$5 raises, two weeks of both paid sick leave and vacation time…”) are so small it’s sad that they need a fight to achieve them.

    If you regard your neighbors as equals and deserving of the same dignity to which you find yourself entitled, then you’ll cheer this on.

    • If you regard your neighbors as equals and deserving of the same dignity and freedom from other people’s dogs, then you’ll not want Cal Anderson to turn into a giant dog park. There are other users besides you.

      • What? My username is obviously a joke (although there is a lack of dog parks in CH!) …

        Besides, the lack of a living wage is, ya know, a serious issue not at all comparable to whether or not we have a dog park in a Cal Anderson.

    • I don’t think there are too many conservative leaning folks on the hill. I think there are just some that aren’t so incredibly left liberal leaning, like to the point where we’re going to fight for burger flippers to get 2 weeks PTO? I mean this is unreal. I’m all for a living wage, I think more discussion around what exactly that means is necessary, though. But yeah, 2 weeks PTO and a $5 raise doesn’t seem like a lot, but in terms of real dollars and real numbers, it’ll be catastrophic to many of the restaurants and bars we all frequent. Not every single business owner in Seattle is Jeff B.

      • Yes, the “left-leaning” citizens of Capitol Hill are solidly in the majority, so this makes it seem like “moderates” (like myself) are actually “conservative.” I am a “mostly Democrat” politically, but I sometimes get accused here of being a Republican because of my centrist views.

  4. They make $17 an hour with tips flipping burgers! People like this have no concept of reality or economics. The entitlement generation with poor work ethic. What a shame, they are to ignorant to understand they are only hurting their employer which will ultimately result in the loss of their own job. Talk about cutting your own nose off to spite your face. They started this nonsense with Burgerville here in Oregon and years later still haven’t seen a dime increase in tehri wages. Future generations are doomed with kids like this in the work force.

      • The company responded previously and another publication posted it. They said ytd, their associates have averaged $17 an hour inclusive of tips which their business model permits. Managers avg about $2 more an hour apparently. I’d have to go find the company’s response, but I too was blown away that these people think they deserve $22 an hour for this type of work. I used to own a couple of restaurants after starting as a line cook when I was young. Anyone in the restaurant industry knows that the margins are thin and $5 is simply not realistic. I wonder what all these people will do when they put their employers out of business. I guess then they will wish they hadn’t destroyed their $17 an hour job to now find themselves making $12. This isn’t even about them, it seems like some union people have poisoned their minds with nonsense to generate union dues. Funny thing is the few leading the movement will soon move onto something else and leave all those they mislead behind. Good luck children…you’re going to need it!

    • I guess it depends on what your definition of “is”, is. Does “living wages” mean earning enough to feed, clothe, and support yourself and live in an in-city apartment by yourself, without roommates? If that’s what “living wages” means— sorry, just my opinion, but no—it’s a ridiculous expectation to think flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant should pay that. Are we assuming from the start that a burger job is a “career” now? It’s no longer a 2nd job to pick up some extra money on the side for a student, 2nd working spouse, or high school kid? If that’s the way we’re looking at it now, I guess we might have hit on why some people think this is absurd to expect, and some don’t.

    • What do we mean by “living wage”? Does it mean a wage sufficient to live by yourself in an in-city apartment ? Live in said apartment with a partner? Roommates?

      I think it is not realistic to expect the first option while employed in a burger restaurant. The second and third options could be acheivable, but probably not if your partner works in the burger place.

      $18 per hour inclusive of tips seems reasonable for these positions. Use your experience as a burger server to get a better server job (make more money), then get a better education (simultaneously, if possible), and work to get ahead in the world.

  5. I was, like, you know, looking at the photo of the guy with the bullhorn at the beginning of the article, and like, wondering if that was…you know, like the same guy Cameron Crowell who was quoted in the article? Because if that’s, like, the same guy, then…like, that would, you know, like that would explain a lot, you know?

  6. Seems like a good company based on their response. I would have been less gracious if it were me. We’ve worked too hard here in Seattle to avoid what people like these and unions stand for and have done to Oregon. Keep killing your own communities and local businesses, stay away from ours.

    Little Big Burger Comments on Recent Unionization Efforts

    Portland OR. March 22, 2019 – Little Big Burger (“LBB or the “Company”), a counter service, fast-casual restaurant concept born out of Oregon and offering fresh, high quality cooked-to-order burgers, truffle fries and root beer floats, today commented on recent efforts regarding potential unionization of LBB employees.

    LBB and its management support and respect our associates’ rights to join a labor union, as well as their right not to join a union. We believe that this is an important decision, and not one that our associates should make lightly. We also believe that it is our responsibility as a pro-employee employer to ensure that all of our team members receive the information that they need to make an informed choice.

    Above all, we believe that it is important that such a decision not be made by just a few people, or by the company. That is why we support the rights of our team members to cast a ballot in a fair, secret ballot election before choosing whether or not to organize under union representation.

    Little Big Burger strives to be the employer of choice in the fast-casual restaurant industry, and we have invested in building a pro-employee culture designed to help attract and retain quality associates. We are a hospitality-driven business and we rely on our associates to deliver an exceptional experience to each guest we serve.

    According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data published in May 2018, the mean hourly wage for “Food Preparation and Serving Related” workers in Portland was $13.04 per hour. Our associates in the same category make over 30% above that. Our associates also earn over 40% more than the local minimum wage offered by most of our competitors.

    We are very proud that in the year to date, the average Little Big Burger associate in the Portland Metro area has earned more than $17 per hour with managers even higher.

    As part of our pro-employee focus, we also made the decision to permit tipping in our stores. We were not required to make this decision; we did so because we are a pro-employee company. That we made this decision (while most of our competitors don’t) speaks to the associate-centric nature of how management thinks about and implements our existing policies and culture.

    We also provide an exceptionally safe, comfortable, and welcome working environment to all of our associates. Our commitment to our associates will never waver, whether they elect to be represented by a union or not.

    Fred Glick, Chanticleer Holdings President, stated, “I began my career in the restaurant business nearly 37 years ago back in 1982. Throughout my entire career in this industry I have always believed that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and the business itself.

    I joined Chanticleer Holdings approximately four months ago, in large part because it’s CEO Mike Pruitt and his executive team shared those values. Since my arrival, I have seen with my own eyes that they do, and that is evidenced by the fact that with full support of the executive team, I focused on employee improvements as my very first initiative. The local media has reported this on a small scale with specific examples from our Portland area stores, and I have seen it on a large scale company-wide.

    One of my very first initiatives when I joined the Company was immediately updating the entire people process, including recruiting, selecting, onboarding, career pathing, training, ongoing development, retaining and engaging team members at all levels with the ultimate goal of building loyal guests and therefore sales and profits. As the new President of this company, I could not be more pleased with how these initiatives have been supported from the top and received by our employees”

    Glick continued, “We updated our organizational chart and finalized all job descriptions at every level of the company. In addition, we completed an in-depth employee engagement survey where we received 321 responses from team members at all levels. In that survey, 78% of LBB respondents indicated that their boss listens to their concerns and finds solutions when needed. Listening to our teams’ needs is the first step toward improved employee engagement, which will lead us toward better managing guest count trends.

    As we committed to our associates when we began this process in January, we have identified improvements from this survey, including improving onboarding, training, and development as well as improving benefits, rewards and recognition systems. We sought this feedback and decided on these improvements before we learned of a union campaign, and we will follow through on the commitment we made to our associates to implement those improvements. I am available next week to talk to any of our team members who want to discuss these issues in a mutually respectful setting.”

  7. Great now I can get a $19 little fast food burger at Little Big Burger. Smart, its not like every restaurant in town doesn’t serve a burger so I’ll go somewhere with better value for my money.

  8. Man, people should look into what In-N-Out Burger pays its employees before jumping to conclusions about how this will impact the cost of the burger.

    In-N-Out’s burgers are cheap, and managers make between 100-160K/year. Starting wages for frontline employees are above minimum wage, and quickly increase. And they employ a lot of people at each location. They give lots of benefits too.

    So yeah, you can pay your employees reasonable wages, keep prices reasonable, and still be successful.

    • None of what you posted is true about the wages at in and out unfortunately. Go apply and see what you learn. There is nobody at a store level making anything remotely close to your purported number.

    • Here’s your facts on compensation at In and Out Burgers.


      You must be a Union troll posting that nonsense. Avg associate at In and Out makes $13.41 compared to what is said to be $17 including tips at this company. In and Out doesn’t permit tipping. The entire union story is false and built on self serving lies. I’ve worked for a union! I ended up quitting ang going to a non unionized competitor. My old co eventually went out of busienss! The parent company of this Little Big Burger is public. Just read their filings, they are losing money as it is.

    • While you’re at it, go talk to the employees of Burgerville who this union has been going after for 3 years. Not a single raise from any collective bargaining. In three years, the workers haven’t received a dime more in pay. Funny thing is these unions infiltrate companies to start the problem and then leave and go to the next. They are union operatives taking advantage of naive workers. They don’t care a thing about the workers, just generating union dues.

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