Chipotle restaurant in Teterboro, New Jersey.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay $240,000 to the former employees of an Augusta, Maine, location as part of a settlement for closing the restaurant when workers tried to unionize.
Chipotle restaurant employees petitioned in late June to unite under Chipotle United, becoming the chain’s first outlet to do so. Prior to the filing, workers had already walked out in protest at working conditions and underemployment.
Less than a month later, Chipotle closed the restaurant, citing staffing issues and saying it respected workers’ right to organize. However, in November, the National Labor Relations Board found that the burrito chain violated federal labor laws when it closed the restaurant and barred organizers from being hired at other locations across the state.
Although Chipotle United viewed the settlement announced Monday as a win, it failed to reopen the closed venue.
Now, former employees at the shuttered Augusta location will receive between $5,800 and $21,000 from Chipotle, depending on their average hours, salary and length of tenure. Chipotle will also offer to put all those employees on a preferred list for other Maine locations for a year.
About 40 stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will have posted notices saying it will not close stores or face discrimination based on union support. Those locations are headed by Chipotle’s area manager who has banned pro-union workers from jobs at other locations, according to Chipotle United, which is not affiliated with larger unions.
Chipotle did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
To date, only one Chipotle location has successfully joined a union. A Lansing, Michigan restaurant voted to unionize under the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in August.
The burrito chain hasn’t seen an outpouring of union petitions after organizers’ first win in Michigan, unlike Starbucks, which has seen more than 290 locations unite in just over a year. But Starbucks Workers United has accused the company of employing similar anti-union tactics, including closing stores. The coffee chain denies all allegations of union fraud, though former CEO Howard Schultz will testify before a Senate panel on Wednesday about the company’s conduct.
— CNBCs Kate Rogers contributed to this report.
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