Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s workplace practices and staff incentive programs are fueling food safety risks at some locations in New York, according to a report by a consumer group and union based on interviews with 47 current and former employees.
The restaurant chain’s pay bonus program creates a “highly pressurized” environment that can lead some managers to cut corners, according to the report from the National Consumers League and a New York based affiliate of Service Employees International Union
(Reuters) – The general counsel of a U.S. labor agency has accused Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc of violating U.S. labor law by allegedly firing an employee in New York in retaliation for complaining about workplace problems and trying to organize with a union.
The office of the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed the complaint on Dec. 12. The union involved, 32BJ, which is trying to organize workers at the Mexican fast-casual restaurant chain, received a copy of the complaint on Thursday.
Because Chipotle’s restaurants are all owned by the corporation as a single employer, it is an easier target for union organizers than fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp, most of whose locations are owned and operated by franchisees.
The fast-casual burrito-slinging behemoth Chipotle was awash in Halloween-themed promotions this month. Cheap “boorritos”! TikTok contests! But no haul of spooky goodies could hide the spirit of labor revolt lurking amid the other skeletons in the company’s closet. Chipotle’s continued labor violations and piss-poor treatment of its workers—who for years have reported that working conditions at the chain are a “nightmare”—came to a head with multiple rallies across New York City in October. Members of 32BJ SEIU, a property-services union dedicated over the better part of a decade to organizing the city’s fast-food workers, gathered to speak out against the company’s failure to heed the city’s 2017 Fair Workweek law. Chipotle’s stated commitment to “raising the bar” in matters of social responsibility apparently stops when it comes to its own employees.
A page on Chipotle’s corporate website touts its “food with integrity” tagline, adding, “With every burrito we roll or bowl we fill, we’re working to cultivate a better world.” That’s certainly not the case for their workers, nor is it all that plausible a claim for the customers, with the restaurant chain’s brutal working conditions and correspondingly lax approach to food safety oversight producing a worrisome array of public health hazards. Since 2008, the company has been at the center of twelve major food safety incidents, including a 2008 hepatitis outbreak in San Diego, a rash of E. coliand norovirus cases across the West Coast and Midwest in 2015, and a fairly exotic Clostridium perfringens outbreak in Ohio last year.
The Fight for $15 low wage movement has long had two goals: winning a $15 -an-hour wage for low-paid workers and a union for fast-food workers. On wages it has been a major success – seven states have enacted minimum wage laws scheduled to reach $15 – but so far it has made little progress unionizing fast-food workers. That could soon change.
A Manhattan-based union local that works closely with the Fight for $15 has launched an effort to unionize Chipotle and McDonald’s workers, getting workers at more than 50 restaurants to sign pro-union cards. “We’re running a campaign for workers in an industry that has been abusing its workers,” said Kyle Bragg, president of the local carrying out the unionization drive, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. “These workers want a union. We’re organizing in order to lift workers and improve their lives.”
With its latest effort, Local 32BJ, a powerful local union with 175,000 members, hopes to make clear to Chipotle and McDonald’s that it is intent on unionizing their restaurants in New York, and they shouldn’t oppose that effort. Union officials say a majority of the hundreds of fast-food workers organizers have approached have signed cards supporting a union.
Workers at Chipotle Mexican Grille in New York City went on strike Tuesday over complaints about labor violations. The Service Employees International Union 32BJ said that more than 20 Chipotle restaurants in the city are facing complaints about last-minute scheduling.
“Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what they’re owed!” workers reportedly chanted in Greenwich Village.
A part-time worker, Carlos Hernandez, said he didn’t trust management at the company. “Right now, we’re fighting for our rights as Chipotle workers,” he told the New York Daily News.
“I honestly don’t believe the management shows the employees respect. They just don’t want to give us the hours. They don’t want to give us more money.”
Earlier this month, the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection sued Chipotle over a city law about giving workers a two-week advance notice about their work schedules and being entitled to extra pay for schedule changes at the last minute.
Employees from five additional stores plan to file complaints with the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection on Tuesday and to walk off their jobs at lunchtime, according to Service Employees International Union 32BJ, the union organizing the workers.
The violations make it hard for fast food workers to plan their lives, 32BJ President Kyle Bragg said in a statement.
“When fast food companies violate these provisions, workers lack the advance notice they need to plan other responsibilities such as second jobs, doctors’ appointments or childcare,” he said.
On Sept. 10, the city sued Chipotle, accusing it of violating its Fair Workweek Law by failing to provide schedules at least two weeks in advance and failing to pay premiums for last-minute schedule changes, among other claims.
The suit stemmed from complaints by more than 30 workers at five Chipotle restaurants in Brooklyn.
Workers at five more city Chipotle Mexican Grill outlets accused the fast food chain Tuesday of violating city law by messing with their schedules.
“Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what they’re owed!” chanted the crowd of about 30 workers before employees at the Sixth Ave. store in Greenwich Village walked off the job in a staged strike.
Workers at another four Chipotle outlets in the city planned to join the Manhattan group in charging their employer had violated city law in making their weekly work schedules.
“Right now, we’re fighting for our rights as Chipotle workers,” said part-time employee Carlos Hernandez, 20. “I honestly don’t believe the management shows the employees respect. They just don’t want to give us the hours. They don’t want to give us more money.”
Hernandez added that he was threatened by a store manager with a loss of benefits if he joined efforts to unionize the workers. More than 20 Chipotle restaurants citywide are now facing complaints, according to the Service Employees International Union 32BJ.
There aren’t a lot of perks that go along with slinging salsa for Chipotle, but a discount on food is one of them. So, Cruz Pacheco was a little caught off-guard when she was fired over the summer and accused of stealing a bag of salty chips and a cup of creamy guacamole.
What didn’t surprise her was the timing. For weeks she had been complaining about short-notice changes to her hours that made it difficult to schedule doctors’ appointments for her mentally ill daughter.
When Pacheco accused managers in the Union Square Chipotle where she worked of violating the city’s fair workweek law, she said, she was tossed out with the leftover lettuce.
Shares of Chipotle, which were down 4% prior to the announcement, tumbled further. The stock is trading down 5.7% Tuesday afternoon.
The lawsuit alleges that Chipotle violated New York City’s Fair Workweek Law, which went into effect in November 2017. More than 30 employees from five different Brooklyn locations of Chipotle filed complaints with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.
They allege that Chipotle failed to give estimates of work schedules and schedules two weeks in advance. The company also allegedly did not get consent for last-minute schedule changes or asking employees to close the store one day and open the following day. The lawsuit also alleges that Chipotle did not give pay premiums for those schedule changes or for working “clopenings,” as they are known in the retail business.
New York City officials are seeking more than $1 million in a lawsuit filed against Chipotle that alleges the fast food chain violated “nearly every aspect” of the city’s “Fair Workweek” law.
The lawsuit, filed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas, seeks more than $1 million in combined fines and restitution for more than 2,600 workers, according to a Tuesday announcement.
De Blasio is also a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary.
But Chipotle claims it complies with all pertinent laws and called the city’s charges “unnecessary.”
The city said Chipotle failed to provide good faith estimates of work schedules and schedules two weeks in advance, failed to get consent and pay premiums for last-minute schedule changes, and failed to offer newly available shifts to current employees.