Chipotle Just Voted To Officially Form Its First Union — Here's What We Know

There are many reasons why employees choose to form unions at their workplace. According to AFL-CIO, unionizing can help negotiate better wages and benefits and give employees a voice and safer working conditions. Compared to employees who aren't in a union, unionized workers make about $191 more per week. Though unions in the restaurant industry are less common than in other businesses (per Synergy Restaurant Consultants), many employees have been working to change that.

In December of 2021, a Buffalo, New York, Starbucks location was the first of the company to form a union (via Vox). Before the votes were tallied, a statement was made by PhD candidate at Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations school Johnnie Kallas. "[This vote] could inspire a lot of workers across the country in a low-unionized sector to fight for union rights," he said. Kallas likely has a point; since then, 208 more Starbucks locations have unionized (per CNBC) and recently, workers at one Chipotle restaurant voted for a union.

Chipotle isn't thrilled with the decision

Earlier this week, it was announced that a Lansing, Michigan, Chipotle location decided to unionize in an 11 to three vote, per CNBC. The workers chose to unionize under the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which is the largest union in America (via Teamsters). The Teamsters help unions negotiate effectively for higher wages, promotions, health insurance, retirement income, paid time-off, and job security.

The Chipotle team couldn't be happier with their decision. "Today's victory is an amazing moment for our team that has worked so hard and spent many months organizing," worker Samantha Smith said to Teamsters. Another crew member, Harper McNamara, echoed the excitement. "We could not be more proud to be the first Chipotle restaurant in the United States to organize," she said.

Unfortunately, Chipotle as a corporation isn't thrilled to see its workers team up with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "We're disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, MI restaurant chose to have a third party speak on their behalf because we continue to believe that working directly together is best for our employees," Chipotle spokesperson Laurie Schalow said to CNBC. If the company chooses, it has five days to file an objection to the union.