In a first for the QSR chain, workers at a Lansing, Mich. Chipotle Mexican Grill voted on Aug. 25, 2022 to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 243. The workers filed for the election with the National Labor Relations Board on July 5 and the restaurant did not object to the filing, according to a Teamsters press release, which noted that the employees are unionizing to improve work schedules, increase wages and gain respect from management.
Chipotle has more than 3,000 restaurants in the U.S., Canada, the UK, France and Germany, and unlike most QSRs of its size, Chipotle both owns and operates its entire fleet.
“We could not be more proud to be the first Chipotle restaurant in the United States to organize,” said Harper McNamara, a 19-year-old Chipotle employee who has worked at the Lansing restaurant for more than two years in a statement. “Forming a union will allow us to have a true voice on the job and force Chipotle to address our concerns. I am so proud of all those who were involved in this effort, and showed the courage needed to take on a huge corporation.”
Chipotle has five business days to contest the election with the NLRB, according to CNBC; if no objections are filed, the company will need to start the bargaining process in good faith.
In a statement to CNBC,Chipotle spokesperson Laurie Schalow said “We’re disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, Mich. 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.”
This election is just the latest in a string of unionization efforts in the retail and hospitality space, including 220 Starbucks stores as well as pro-union votes at Apple and Trader Joe’s locations. Unionization efforts at Amazon warehouses in Alabama, Staten Island and Castleton, N.Y. have had a mixed record of success, but any victories are significant given the company’s anti-union stance and activities.