Chipotle restaurant in Michigan becomes the first in chain to unionize
LANSING, Mich. – A Michigan Chipotle Mexican Grill is believed to be the first of the nation's roughly 3,000 locations to vote for unionization, according to a lawyer representing the Teamsters Union.
Workers at the Lansing location voted Thursday to join Teamsters Local 243, according to the union.
A Teamsters lawyer, Kyle McCoy, told the Lansing State Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, Friday the next steps will be to poll workers at the restaurant to see what they want in a contract and then to take those requests to the bargaining table with Chipotle.
"We set out to show that our generation can make substantial change in this world and improve our working conditions by taking action collectively," Samantha Smith, an 18-year-old worker at the restaurant, was quoted in a Teamsters press release. "What this vote shows is that workers are going to keep taking the fight to big corporations like Chipotle and demand the working conditions we deserve."
Chipotle is the latest big-name employer to see one of its workplaces unionize amid a wave of unionization efforts that has swept the country in the last year.
Notably, Starbucks corporate leadership has been publicly rattled by successful unionization efforts at more than 200 of its coffee shops. And e-commerce giant Amazon saw its first warehouse unionize in New York earlier this year.
Another Chipotle location in Maine was closed after a unionization effort, a closure company officials have said came as a result of staffing issues.
Lawyers for Chipotle, listed in unionization documents, did not respond Friday morning to phone messages left by the Lansing State Journal seeking comment.
Workers at the Lansing location filed for the election with the National Labor Relations Board on July 5. The corporate-owned restaurant did not object to the filing, according to the union.
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"Chipotle pulled in revenue of $7.5 billion last year, and just as we're seeing workers of all ages and backgrounds across the country take on these corporate giants, it's so inspiring to see Chipotle workers stand up and demand more from a company that can clearly afford it," Scott Quenneville, president of Local 243, said in the statement.
“At Chipotle, our employees are our greatest asset, and we are committed to listening to their needs and continuing to improve upon their workplace experience," Chipotle said in a statement to USA TODAY. "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."
Contributing: Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY