Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Chipotle Closes First Unionized Store, but Organization Momentum Continues

Last month, workers at an Augusta, Maine Chipotle store formed the first ever Chipotle union in the United States. On Tuesday, the company closed the store and laid-off all of the workers.

James Dennis Hoff

July 20, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
A Chipotle restaurant, inside a customer orders food.
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last month, workers were celebrating the first ever successful union drive at a Chipotle restaurant in the country, but just a little less than four weeks later the company has responded by closing the store and firing all of the employees. 

This clear act of retaliation is yet another example of the dirty tactics that companies like Chipotle, Starbucks, and Amazon are using to try to defeat the growing wave of unionization efforts spreading throughout the country. But organizers say they are not giving up, and already a second Chipotle location, this one in Lansing Michigan, has filed to form a union.

As one of the organizers, Brandi McNease, put it

Since we announced our intent to unionize, they’ve tried to bully, harass and intimidate our crew to prevent them from exercising their right to have a collective voice on the job. But we remain united, our solidarity is strong, and we won’t bend. We are sticking together, and our customers have our backs. We are fighting this decision and we are building a movement to transform the fast-food industry and ensure the workers who create all the wealth for these corporations are respected and no longer have to struggle to support their families.

The news came on Tuesday when workers received a letter from the company announcing the permanent closure of the Augusta, Maine location, which had already been temporarily shuttered due to staffing issues since just before the union was formally declared on June 22. 

The company claims that it could not find enough workers or managers to run the store, but the union says that Chipotle had regularly forced workers to open the store even when they did not have enough employees to safely do so. In fact workers had held a walkout to protest the problem of short staffing just days before the union was formed. Clearly the problem is not a lack of willing workers, but a lack of workers willing to work under terrible conditions for little pay. 

While Chipotle claims they tried to do everything they could to address the staffing problem, it is obvious that the store was closed not because they could not find sufficient staff, but because they wanted to destroy the fledgling union and to discourage any further unionization efforts across the company as larger unions such as Service Employees International Union (SEIU32BJ) look to organize the company. 

In response to the store closing, the workers called an emergency demonstration on Tuesday evening to rally support for the union within the community and to protest the company’s union busting tactics.

This store closing is just the latest in a wave of retaliations against new unions. At the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, several union organizers were fired shortly after their successful unionization vote in April, and dozens of Starbucks workers have been fired for their organizing efforts, including one union activist at the newly organized Starbucks store in Astoria, Queens. 

It is unclear where the fledgling union will go from here and whether or not they will be able to build the support they need to grow Chipotle United, but one thing is clear: Chipotle employees, like all working people, need and deserve a union, and workers everywhere should support their efforts to build one. 

Facebook Twitter Share

James Dennis Hoff

James Dennis Hoff is a writer, educator, labor activist, and member of the Left Voice editorial board. He teaches at The City University of New York.


Labor Movement

President Biden giving a speech on Friday, September 15, about the UAW strike. A UAW sign in the background.

Joe Biden Is Afraid of the UAW Strike. That’s a Good Thing.

A few days ago, Biden called on the bosses of the Big Three automakers to give concessions to the striking UAW workers. It’s because he’s scared of the UAW’s power.

Enid Brain

September 20, 2023

To Win, the UAW Strike Must Be Organized from Below

The strike at the Big Three has put the working class at the center of national politics. The autoworkers’ demands are bold and touch on issues of growing exploitation across the country. To win big, the strike must be organized from below.

Tristan Taylor

September 18, 2023

UAW: The Contract Fight of Their Lives 

With ambitious demands on the table and billions of dollars on the line for the Big Three, the UAW contract struggle is shaping up to be one of the most important and unprecedented labor actions in years.

Tristan Taylor

September 14, 2023

The UAW Is Right: All Workers Deserve a Shorter Work Week AND Higher Wages

The current contract struggle at The Big Three and increasing automation in the auto industry raise an important question: How can we use technology to benefit the working class rather than feed the profits of the bosses? 

Luigi Morris

September 14, 2023


China’s Rise, ‘Diminished Dependency,’ and Imperialism in Times of World Disorder

In this broad-ranging interview, originally published in LINKS, Trotskyist Fraction member Esteban Mercatante discusses how recent global shifts in processes of capital accumulation have contributed to China’s rise, the new (and old) mechanisms big powers use to plunder the Global South, and its implications for anti-imperialist and working-class struggles today.

Esteban Mercatante

September 22, 2023
Migrants from Northern Africa sit in lines on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Crisis in Lampedusa: Down with Fortress Europe, Open the Borders!

The way out of the immigration crisis is through the struggle against imperialism. This is a declaration from the European organizations of the Trotskyist Fraction - Fourth International.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams stands at a podium.

The Housing Crisis and Migrant Crisis Are Crises of Capitalism

As thousands of people come to the U.S. seeking shelter, politicians around the country are claiming that housing in the U.S. is already in crisis and that there is no room for them. Both the “migrant crisis” and “housing crisis” are crises created and exacerbated by capitalism.

Mike Pappas

September 20, 2023

Germany Is Threatening to Deport Palestinian Refugees for Their Activism

#StandWithZaid: Zaid Abdulnasser, the coordinator of the Palestine solidarity network Samidoun Germany, is a Palestinian refugee from Syria. The German are threatening to revoke his residence permit due to his political activism.

Tom Krüger

September 18, 2023