Chipotle Workers Are The Next Group To Join The Labor Movement

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns forcing eateries to close their storefronts and find creative ways to continue attracting customers. The industry has also seen a high turnover rate, with no difference in the hiring rate between November of 2020 and November of 2021, even as job openings increased by nearly 3%, per Nation's Restaurant News. It may seem unsurprising to some that people would vacate these jobs; at fast food establishments, especially, service workers experience low pay, long and unpredictable hours, and a lack of job security (via Civil Eats).

These workers aren't just quitting, however. Many of them seek unionization while working for large corporations, with Starbucks being one of the most notable. CBS reported that "at least 151 stores have...voted to unionize" since a store in Buffalo became the first Starbucks to unionize in December of 2021. The labor movement isn't over in the coffee chain, either, as nearly 300 other Starbucks stores have pushed to hold unionization elections. Starbucks employees aren't alone in organizing their workers: Chipotle employees have also begun joining the labor movement.

Unionization at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Nation's Restaurant News reports that a Chipotle location in Augusta, Maine, has officially voted "to be recognized formally as an independent union, Chipotle United," making it the first of the international chain's restaurants to file as a union. Chipotle has already been at the center of the labor controversy for how it has treated its employees. In 2021, there was a protest at a Chipotle location in Queens after it refused to pay workers' lost wages when a flood closed the location for more than a week, Eater reports. The year before, a New York City Chipotle location faced down a rat infestation that led to several workers getting bit over a period of months, per NBC.

While the Augusta location is the first independent store to unionize, there have been other Chipotle union efforts in New York City. 32BJ Service Employees International Union is a labor organization that has been aiding New York City Chipotle workers, helping organize the aforementioned Queens protest among other efforts.