The Real Reason 11 People Were Arrested At A Chipotle Worker Rally

Last month, New York State Senator Jessica Ramos and other Democratic state lawmakers proposed legislation alongside two prominent labor unions to bump New York's minimum wage to $20.45 by 2025, Brooklyn Post reports. With rent prices soaring in the country's largest city, New York's current minimum wage of 15 bucks an hour (which came to the floor as part of the 2016-17 State Budget, per just isn't cutting it anymore. 

For many workers, increasing the minimum wage is only the first step toward improving conditions in the workplace. That's why union initiatives — like the one driving a wedge between Starbucks workers and their corporate proprietors — are so prolific in the service industry; they allow workers to band together on issues they feel aren't being addressed by their employers. Unfortunately, workers who advocate for unionizing often face consequences. Take pro-union Starbucks employees, who have been fired in droves since the onset of the nationwide union drive, per Vice. The repercussions for union advocacy were even more serious for a handful of New York City Chipotle workers and allies (including Senator Ramos), who marched up 6th Avenue in Manhattan on Thursday demanding a $20 minimum wage and better working conditions, Bloomberg reports.

Protestors were arrested for blocking an intersection

Those who comprised Thursday's rally included Chipotle workers, advocates like Senator Jessica Ramos, and representatives of the Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ, which represents workers across the service industry with campaigns like Unions for All. Of the 200 or so people that showed up to rally for a minimum wage increase and improved working conditions at the restaurant chain, 11 were arrested, including Senator Ramos, for "blocking the intersection of 56th Street and 6th Avenue," union rep Rush Perez told Bloomberg.

While Chipotle rep Laurie Schalow claims the average NYC Chipotle worker makes $17.37 an hour, that's still not enough to get by in the city. "I'm a single mother who takes care of two boys. I have a whole apartment to pay for rent," a Chipotle worker told Gothamist. "I'm just tired of living check to check, trying to keep food in my house." Other workers told the outlet that their hours were being inexplicably cut and that they were "being denied full-time employment" — an act that defies New York City's Fair Workweek Law that "must give workers regular schedules that stay the same week-to-week." 

Thursday's rally followed a week of strikes across Chipotle outposts in NYC, per Bloomberg, signaling a union drive that Chipotle HQ might not be able to ignore. For many employees, unfair conditions and inadequate pay should be added to the list of what it's really like to work at Chipotle