To Vote For Union
In what's being decried as "union-busting 101," Chipotle Mexican Grill just permanently closed the first of its stores nationwide where employees voted to pursue unionization.
At 7:39am on Tuesday, a Chipotle Northeast "people experience partner" emailed employees to notify them that Chipotle was pulling the plug on their store on Stephen King Drive in Augusta, Maine.
The closure comes just four weeks after employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to arrange a unionization election. On July 11, a Delta Township, Michigan Chipotle's became the second location in the country to make that move. As we reported last week, union-organizing across the country has surged to a six-year high, with Starbucks a notable target.
For lack of workers, the store has been closed to the public since June 17, but the company kept it open for training and continued paying Augusta employees while not actually serving customers. Now, laid-off workers will receive pay for scheduled shifts this week plus four weeks of severance based on the hours worked in the last two weeks.
In a statement, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer Laurie Schalow said the chain had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to staff the Augusta location, to include assigning two recruiting experts to support the store:
“Despite these efforts, we have been unable to adequately staff this remote restaurant with crew and continue to be plagued with excessive call-outs and lack of availability from existing staff. We have had an even more difficult time finding managers to lead the restaurant. Because of these ongoing staffing challenges, there is no probability of reopening in the foreseeable future, so we’ve made the decision to permanently close the restaurant.”
Workers are planning a Tuesday evening rally to demand the store be reopened. "Chipotle is playing dirty and we’re fighting back! Join us at 5pm to protest the closure of our store and tell them that union busting is bad business! ...Bring your signs and your voices and stand up with Chipotle United!" the group said on Twitter