(MENAFN) Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay USD240,000 to former employees as part of a settlement stemming from a complaint that the company violated federal law by closing a restaurant where workers wanted to unionize. The Augusta, Maine location was the first in the chain to file a union petition. The settlement, released by union officials on Monday, states that two dozen employees will receive payments from Chipotle and they will be placed on a preferential hiring list for other Maine locations.
Chipotle announced it was permanently closing its Augusta location last year after workers filed a National Labor Relations Board petition for a union election. The NLRB later said the closure was illegal. The settlement requires Chipotle to post a notice in dozens of stores in New England that it won't close stores or discriminate against employees due to union support.
The settlement sends a message to corporations that shutting down a store and blackballing workers is not acceptable. "It sends a message to corporations that shutting down a store and blackballing workers didn't work for Chipotle and it won't work for them either," said Brandi McNease, a former employee of the Augusta store and the lead organizer of the union drive, in a statement provided by the Maine AFL-CIO.
The NLRB protects the rights of employees to engage in collective bargaining and to form, join or assist labor organizations. The agency investigates and remedies unfair labor practices committed by employers or unions. The Chipotle settlement is an example of how the NLRB can hold employers accountable for violating federal labor law.
The settlement also highlights the ongoing struggle for workers' rights in the fast food industry, where unionization rates are low and many workers face low wages, unpredictable schedules, and limited benefits. The Chipotle case underscores the importance of protecting workers' rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining, and the need for employers to respect these rights. By holding employers accountable for violating federal labor law, the NLRB can help ensure that workers are able to exercise their rights and improve their working conditions.
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