In a significant move that underscores the growing activism among workers in the food industry, employees at the Portillo’s Food Service warehouse in Aurora, Illinois, have voted to unionize. This decision marks the second Portillo’s location to seek union representation, a movement that is gaining momentum across the company’s various facilities.

The vote comes after a prolonged six-month period during which workers rallied together to voice their grievances about disrespectful treatment on the job. Despite facing an anti-union campaign from Portillo’s management, which included meetings designed to dissuade them from organizing, the workers remained steadfast. Their resolve paid off, as they successfully secured representation under the Iron Workers Local 853.

Hank Hunsell, a General Organizer with the Iron Workers Union, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, emphasizing that the union-busting strategies employed by Portillo’s management did not deter the workers. He urged Portillo’s leadership to respect the workers’ decision and to commence negotiations for their inaugural collective agreement.

Chandra Wilson, a Production Associate at Portillo’s, shared her enthusiasm about the unionization. She noted that the journey was challenging but worthwhile, particularly as it promises a platform to advocate for improved pay and working conditions. Echoing her sentiments was her colleague, Fabian Anzures, a Crew Chief who has been with the company for over two decades. Anzures highlighted the significance of now having a real voice in the workplace, suggesting a hopeful outlook for the handling of workers’ concerns.

This union victory was celebrated not long after a significant rally in Rosemont, Illinois, which drew attention to the unionization efforts at both the Aurora and Addison Portillo’s locations. The rally, and the subsequent union win, indicate a strengthening resolve among workers to demand better treatment and compensation.

Interestingly, this development follows a similar scenario at the Addison Food Production Warehouse, which unionized a year earlier. According to Iron Workers Union Organizer Anahí Tapia Torres, despite efforts by Portillo’s to challenge the legitimacy of the Addison workers’ union, the spirit among the employees remains undeterred. The growing solidarity among workers at various locations suggests a broader movement for rights and recognition within the company.

The Iron Workers Union, which now represents the employees at Portillo’s in Aurora, is no small player in the labor movement. With a membership of 130,000 across North America, the union is involved in various sectors including construction of bridges, structural steel, and more. This backing provides a considerable support network for the newly unionized workers at Portillo’s, empowering them to negotiate from a position of strength.

This move by Portillo’s workers in Aurora is a vivid example of the broader labor trends in the U.S., where there is a growing shift towards unionization as workers seek to improve their working conditions and wages. It reflects an enduring tradition of collective action among workers, highlighting their readiness to advocate for fairness and respect in the workplace.