Lansing Chipotle store workers unionize - a 1st for chain

A union says workers at a Chipotle store in Michigan have voted to unionize, becoming the first of the Mexican fast-food chain’s 3,000 locations to do so
Lansing Chipotle first in chain to unionize
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It’s a sign the union movement may be changing here in Michigan. Workers at Chipotle on West Saginaw in Delta Township have become the first to form a union. Only 1% of workers at food and drinking outlets were members of unions in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But in 2022, workers at several Starbucks and now Chipotle are unionizing.

“With the union, it will definitely force Chipotle to listen to our concerns and then they have to act on it,” said Chipotle worker, Samantha Smith.

Smith has been working at Chipotle for two years now. She said the staff has been overworked, underpaid and left with not enough staff.

Smith said that’s why employees voted 11-to-3 to join the Teamsters.

“Like fast-food restaurants aren’t typically a likely candidate for unionizing and us and Starbucks are some of the first,” Smith said, “I think that’s going to be very influential and show other chains and other places that this is a very achievable and possible goal, if people come together and continue fighting for all of this.”

Their vote to unionize comes amid a broader organization push across the country. Workers at more than 180 Starbucks have formed unions since late 2021. Many Amazon workers voted to unionize in the spring.

MSU professor Maite Tapia said unions can be positive for both workers and employers.

“When you have a union the idea behind this is that your employees might be more satisfied, they might be more productive so in essence your turnover goes down,” Tapia said.

The company sees things differently.

“We’re disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, Michigan 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,” said Chipotle spokesperson Laurie Schalow

Chipotle didn’t file a request with the National Labor Relations Board to stop the election from happening. It has five business days to file an objection before the results are certified.

At that point, negotiations can begin.

Workers at a restaurant in Maine filed a request to hold an election in June. Chipotle closed that location citing staffing problems.

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