A “supermajority” of employees at The Bazaar in Washington, D.C., a restaurant owned and operated by the José Andrés Group, has formed a union with Unite Here Local 25, a D.C.-area branch for the hospitality industry union. This is now the fourth restaurant unionization that has been formally recognized by the José Andrés Group, including another restaurant in D.C. and two in Los Angeles.
The Bazaar, located inside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the nation’s capital, is staffed mainly by immigrants and the unionization effort is mainly an immigrants’ rights issue, according to Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa, a Mid-Atlantic Latino and immigrant organization. According to Local 25, the employees — who serve mainly D.C.’s political elite — are seeking better treatment, employer-paid healthcare, and safer working conditions.
“I used to work at MGM National Harbor, represented by UNITE HERE Local 25, and that was the only time I’ve ever been able to just work one job,” Charnissa Williams, a server at The Bazaar said in a statement. “I saw firsthand the power, dignity, and security that comes with union membership, and think we at the Bazaar all deserve the same.”
The union never actually campaigned for a formal election with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize because the organization had already formed a supermajority and were just seeking recognition from the restaurant group. Under new legal framework created by the NLRB in a legal decision last summer, “when a union requests recognition on the basis that a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit have designated the union as their representative, an employer must either recognize and bargain with the union or promptly file an RM petition seeking an election.”
The José Andrés Group chose to recognize the unionization decision of the employees at The Bazaar, releasing a statement that said: "The Bazaar in Washington has agreed to voluntarily recognize a bargaining unit to represent workers. As an independent restaurant group based in Washington for over three decades amidst the most challenging of times, we are proud to have created places to work that are safe and equitable, with dignity for all. We hope in coming to the table together we can work cooperatively to preserve good jobs that will employ workers for years to come."
This is not the first non-chain restaurant to form a union this year. Last July, the workers at New York City pizzeria Barboncino voted to be represented by the Starbucks union, Workers United, making the Crown Heights restaurant the first unionized pizzeria in New York City.
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