The first Chipotle Mexican Grill store has applied for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board, the Maine chapter of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations announced via Twitter Wednesday. The workers are seeking official recognition as an independent union, Chipotle United.
This Chipotle, located in Augusta, Maine, filed for a union election on the heels of employees at several other big companies, including Starbucks, Amazon and Apple, ramping up union activity this year.
Nation’s Restaurant News has contacted the Maine Chapter of the AFL-CIO, but has not yet received a response. According to an emailed statement from Chipotle Director of Corporate Affairs Laurie Schalow, the workers filed for unionization the week after raising concerns about workload, staffing and leadership, and the company immediately “deployed additional resources such as hiring and training additional staff, retraining existing employees and providing new leadership.
“We respect the rights of our employees under national labor relations law and are committed to ensuring a fair, just and humane work environment that provides opportunity for all,” the company statement read. We believe that our actions to address concerns raised by our team in Augusta last week prior to receiving notice of any petitions there show how quickly we can and do respond to our employees when they directly inform us of their issues and concerns.
Schalow urged employees to contact the company directly through their anonymous 1-800 number if there’s a problem, but didn’t outright discourage employees from voting to unionize.
Chipotle appears to be the first major national restaurant chain to begin unionizing following Starbucks’ wave of union elections over the past six months (over 160 “yes” and counting union elections). Tensions have risen between pro-union employees and the Starbucks company, which recently underwent a management reshuffle with the departure of three executives in the past two months.
SBWorkers United congratulated Chipotle workers for a job well done and tweeted in solidarity:
Although Chipotle claims this is the first store to apply for unionization, the New York chapter of the Service Employees International Union also organizes the New York-area Chipotles. It would, however, be the first independent union that the workers would take the initiative to organize without an umbrella organisation.
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