PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Three employees at the famous Voodoo Doughnut shop in Portland, Oregon, were reportedly fired this week after they walked out during the scorching Pacific Northwest heat wave.
The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported that some on-duty staff walked out of the downtown shop on Sunday afternoon and planned to return to work Tuesday, according to a statement from Doughnut Workers United, which had unsuccessfully attempted to unionize staff at the location earlier this year.
Not all staffers walked out, and the store remained open on Monday. Voodoo Doughnuts, known for its extravagant doughnuts with unusual toppings, is a popular tourist draw.
One of the employees who joined in the strike, Skyler Irvine, told the newspaper he felt close to passing out from the heat during a couple of his shifts last week. Workers said on one day they recorded a temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) inside the store. Portland set an all-time record high temperature on Monday when the mercury reached 116 F (47 C).
When Irvine returned to work Tuesday, he said the store’s general manager called him into his office and fired him for an unexcused absence. Two other workers were fired for the same reason, according to the union’s statement.
Voodoo Doughnut spokesperson Audrey Lincoff declined to discuss the firings but said the unionization effort was defeated in an election certified by the National Labor Relations Board last month and that the union was not recognized by the company.
“The store is air-conditioned and we took measures to address warmer than normal conditions, including providing employees extended or additional breaks, and shifting production to early morning and late evening hours,” she wrote. “Employee and customer safety is our highest priority; if we felt either were at risk during this time, we would have adjusted operating hours and otherwise made sure everyone was safe.”
Doughnut Workers United said in its statement it planned to respond to the firings with legal action and picket lines.