About 60 workers at Kim's — prolific Minneapolis chef Ann Kim's Korean American restaurant — are seeking to unionize, citing unpredictable work schedules they say make it hard to make a living.

Workers notified Kim's management Tuesday of their intent to unionize. The Uptown eatery would be the first union shop among the James Beard award-winner's family of restaurants, which include Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza.

"We really hope that Kim's will listen and that they'll understand and respect that we want this restaurant to succeed. We want this industry to succeed," said Iain Knopp-Schwyn, 27, who works as a bar lead. "But it doesn't succeed without all of us."

Vestalia Hospitality, the group behind the four restaurants, did not respond to a request for comment.

Kim's and its sister restaurants all apply a surcharge of 18% to 21% in lieu of tipping. The surcharge goes entirely toward labor expenses, according to the restaurant group, and contributes to "offering a complete, livable hourly wage for our entire team."

The restaurant's messaging about a livable wage was appealing to Gabby Seabrook, who works in a support role that includes hosting, bussing tables, food running and bar backing. Seabrook started at $20 an hour and is now making $22 an hour.

"When I got hired on, I was really excited to be making $20 an hour. And then I received my first paycheck," Seabrook said. "They barely covered half of my rent."

The problem, employees said, is the number of scheduled work hours each week varies widely, and even if they're expecting a certain number of hours, that can dwindle if managers cut them partway through an overstaffed or slow shift.

"It makes me hesitant to spend on anything that isn't a necessity because I'm not sure if I'm, by the end of the week, going to work 25 hours or 35 or 15," said Kaylee Murphy, 41, who makes $27 an hour as a bartender.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees can begin bargaining if their employer recognizes their union. If that doesn't happen, workers must hold a union election, which would start with filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board.

The nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center of Minnesota trained Kim's workers as they prepared for their union drive. If successful, the staff — from servers to bartenders to cooks — would join Unite Here Local 17, a hospitality union that represents workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and stadiums, hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs across Minnesota. The union helped about 200 workers at First Avenue to unionize across the company's collection of Twin Cities venues in November.

"It's no secret that jobs in the service industry need to change, and it's time restaurant workers had a real path to make their jobs better. Hospitality is all about taking care of people: Those who do that work deserve to be respected, supported and taken care of, too," Sheigh Freeberg, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 17, said in a statement.

Instability is common in the restaurant world, and workers often move from one job to another. But Kim's employees said they're committed to improving their workplace and the industry as a whole. In October, Kim's took the place of Sooki & Mimi, the chef's previous Mexican restaurant in the same location that had opened in early 2021. Those restaurants have been a dependable feature of the neighborhood, where commercial turnover has been high.

Murphy, who lives in Uptown, said she jumped at the chance to work at a locally owned business. Rather than find another job, she said, she wants to plant roots and be part of her community.

"Others I work with also thought that and decided to do something about it," she said. "I hope that they listen to us."

Correction: A previous version of this story gave the incorrect age for Kaylee Murphy. She is 41.