Mirisata Restaurant Workers Union Affiliates with Industrial Workers of the World
The recently established union at the cooperative Sri Lankan eatery, which represents all employees who are not member-owners, is now a formal affiliate of the IWW’s branch in Portland, Oregon.
PORTLAND, Oregon — The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is proud to announce that workers at Mirisata, a cooperative vegan Sri Lankan restaurant located in Portland, Oregon have been welcomed into the labor union following their request for affiliation. Workers at Mirisata initially received voluntary recognition as an independent union earlier this month on Feb. 18, 2022.
While Mirisata is a cooperative enterprise half of the staff currently employed have no formal ownership or management rights, including part-time staff who are ineligible for ownership according to the company’s rules. The IWW unit will cover the current non-owner staff as well as future employees who opt out of ownership.
The IWW is excited to begin Collective Bargaining at Mirisata, where broad goals include health and safety policy, job security, job duty specifications, and a staff voice in scheduling matters.
In the high-turnover restaurant industry union representation is as an essential a tool for workers at cooperatives as it is in any other form of business ownership.
“As someone who has worked in many restaurants, I want people to feel seen and respected, and I want them to feel like they have job security. We really all love working together, we enjoy every single person that’s there, we are just seeking to create a cohesive way to work together so that everything goes smoothly and everyone has what they need in terms of hours, in terms of money, in terms of rest.” - Tonya Abernathy, Back-of-house employee.
“It’s definitely unique for a union to form at a cooperatively owned business. But because of that unique circumstance, it’s even more necessary. A lot of lines are blurred in a structure like this... The restaurant was founded on this premise of being democratic and worker-first, but as long as these power structures exist between workers and worker-owners, there is going to be that push and pull.” - Jesi Bonoan, Front-of-house employee.
“One big thing that was on all of our minds is that there will always be [non owner] workers at this business, and we want them to have representation.” - Hannah Gioia, Line Cook & Union Spokesperson
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a labor union representing nearly 9,000 workers across North America. Established in 1905, the IWW is known for its high standards of democracy, transparency, multinationalism, and active use of the right to strike.