Chipotle United — which represents workers from the Augusta, Maine Chipotle restaurant that was closed last year just before the store was supposed to vote on unionizing — announced a settlement with the company Monday morning.
According to the union, Chipotle Mexican Grill must pay ex-employees of the store $240,000 and under the settlement agreement must also post notices at 40 New England regional stores acknowledging that they broke union protection laws and committing to not union-bust moving forward. The former Augusta employees will also have the right to be placed on preferential hiring lists when applying to store-level jobs at the company moving forward.
“This settlement is a huge win; Chipotle just got put on notice,” a representative for Chipotle United said during a rally Monday morning. “The unionbusting will not be tolerated and there’s no way around it […] no more staffing to a bare minimum, raising prices until the market pushes back or exploiting workers. We will continue to fight.”
In June 2022, the August, Maine store filed for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board, on the heels of the Starbucks union movement heating up. The workers at the Augusta Chipotle filed for a union election the same week that Chipotle “deployed additional resources such as hiring and training additional staff, retraining existing employees and providing new leadership” to the struggling store.
Less than one month later, Chipotle corporate closed the Augusta store permanently, citing understaffing issues, including lack of management resources.” At the time, Chipotle Union activists said that the announcement of the store closure was abrupt and was made the morning of a hearing to determine the process of the upcoming union election, and cited union-busting allegations against the company.
Then, in July, a second Chipotle store — this one in Lansing, Mich. — filed for unionization and in August became the first unionized Chipotle store in the entire company, joining Teamsters Local 243 under the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Following the settlement, Chipotle has maintained that the company did nothing wrong in closing the Augusta store.
“A settlement has been reached with the National Labor Relations Board and Chipotle Workers United for the events surrounding the closure of our Augusta, Maine restaurant last year,” Chipotle said in a statement emailed to NRN. “We settled this case not because we did anything wrong, but because the time, energy and cost to litigate would have far outweighed the settlement agreement. We respect our employees’ rights to organize under the National Labor Relations Act and are committed to ensuring a fair and just work environment that provides opportunities to all.”
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