In June, workers at an Augusta, Maine Chipotle restaurant successfully filed for a union election, which if they win would make them the first unionized location in the $43 billion multinational chain. Many different companies previously unchallenged by union drives have been facing campaigns from workers, including Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Trader Joe’s. In the face of the rapid spread of the Starbucks union drive, Chipotle management shut down the store in Augusta and blacklisted the workers, refusing to hire them at other locations. This is a blatant attempt to intimidate workers from organizing other Chipotle fast food restaurants.
However, the workers have not given up the fight for a union. They’re organizing protests and circulating a petition calling for the Augusta Chipotle to be reopened. We encourage everyone to attend local protests and sign and circulate the petition here.
Chipotle Workers United demands:
“We call on Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol to:
- Re-open the Augusta store: they are ready to work and are willing to work at other, near-by, Chipotles until their store can be re-opened.
- Pay all wages lost while their store has been closed.
- Work with the workers and rehire their coworkers who have been displaced from the store even before the shutdown.
- Commit to respecting our rights and the rights of all Chipotle workers seeking to join together and form Unions.”
The challenges and obstacles faced by the Chipotle United workers, as well as other union drives like the Amazon Labor Union, make it clear that the labor movement needs answers to the capitalist class’ union busting tactics. Such tactics include preventing unionized workplaces from winning first contracts and decertification efforts.
AFL-CIO unions and other unions need to mobilize mass numbers of union members immediately for protests and pickets of other Chipotle locations to pressure Chipotle management to reopen the Augusta store that was closed, and rehire the workers. The labor movement needs to invest serious resources into connecting with other Chipotle workers to organize more locations that can take job action until the demands of the Augusta workers are met. Solidarity actions at other companies should be considered, which can push those companies to apply their own pressure on Chipotle to concede. The labor movement as a whole needs to organize public meetings to spread the word about this brutal union busting, and needs to organize labor events to study labor history, bring together experiences from different organizing campaigns and strikes, and debate what tactics to use in response to corporate union busting.