Biscuit World workers say no to 1st W.Va. fast-food union

By Leah Willingham - Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Workers at a West Virginia franchise of a regional fast-food restaurant on Tuesday rejected efforts to form a union that would have been the first its kind in West Virginia.

The effort was part of a larger national trend of organizing among retail and food service workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A group of employees watched National Labor Relations Board officials count votes over Zoom Tuesday at the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 office in Charleston. Employees rejected the union by a vote of 7-5. Roughly two dozen people work at the franchise. Of the 20 workers eligible to vote, 14 did so. Two ballots were challenged and not counted.

Relatively unknown outside the region, Tudor’s Biscuit World is a staple of West Virginia where diners can get made-from-scratch biscuits doused in gravy; country-fried steak and sandwiches including the Miner or the Mountaineer. Founded in Charleston in 1980, the chain now has more than 70 locations, mostly in West Virginia and in parts of neighboring states Ohio and Kentucky.

Workers at a Tudor’s in Elkview, a mountain town of fewer than 2,000 people, decided to unionize after they expressed concerns about unsafe conditions and unfair treatment working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the employees’ allegations were that they were not informed when workers tested positive for COVID-19 and that they were asked to work long hours and at different store locations and then reprimanded for overtime.

The vice president of Tudor’s Biscuit World did not respond to a voicemail or text message from The Associated Press on Monday, and no one from the chain’s corporate offices responded to phone calls.

Employees sent in their ballots over the past few weeks before they were read Tuesday.

By Leah Willingham

Associated Press