A Chipotle in Michigan becomes the first to unionize

New York

Workers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Lansing, Michigan, voted to unionize Thursday, becoming the first of the fast-casual chain’s 3,000 locations to organize.

The workers at the Lansing Chipotle voted to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In a release Thursday, the union said that workers are organizing “to improve their work schedules, increase wages, and gain the respect from management that they’ve rightfully earned.”

In this Feb. 8, 2016, file photo, shows a sign for the Chipotle restaurant in Pittsburgh's Market Square.

The restaurant joins a wave of unionization efforts at workplaces across the country, including other food service locations like Starbucks, which has had more than 200 US locations unionize since its first victory in Buffalo, New York, last year.

“Chipotle pulled in revenue of $7.5 billion last year, and just as we’re seeing workers of all ages and backgrounds across the country take on these corporate giants, it’s so inspiring to see Chipotle workers stand up and demand more from a company that can clearly afford it,” said Scott Quenneville, president of Teamsters Local 243.

In a statement, Chipotle said it offers its employees industry-leading benefits, such as competitive wages, debt-free degrees, health benefits and bonuses that last year totaled $37 million for its nearly 100,000 employees.

“We’re disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, MI 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,” Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs officer, said in a statement.

Chipotle permanently closed a restaurant in Augusta, Maine, that filed to form a union in June, saying it was unable to “adequately staff” that location. Union organizers claimed the chain was trying to stifle workers.

The Chipotle workers in Lansing filed for election with the National Labor Relations Board on July 5. Chipotle did not object to the filing.

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