New York, NY – Today, current and former Chipotle workers took their demands for $20/hour and fair work schedules to the heart of American commerce, 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Workers and their supporters were arrested as they called for real dignity, higher wages, and an end to Chipotle’s practices that produce high employee turnover and instability for workers.
New York City has an open complaint against Chipotle for $150 million in worker relief for almost 600,000 alleged violations of the City’s Fair Workweek law. Workers report that Chipotle continues to violate the law by failing to give workers access to available shifts before hiring new workers and cutting workers’ hours at stores across the city. In protest, Chipotle workers from a dozen NYC stores have gone on strike this week.
Speakers demanded Chipotle, which made over $650 million in profits in 2021, do better. State Senator Jessica Ramos (Labor Chair), State Assembly Member Latoya Joyner (Labor Chair), and New York City Councilmember Julie Menin joined the Chipotle workers. In a show of solidarity, 11 individuals engaged in civil disobedience following the conclusion of the rally-including Senator Ramos, striking Chipotle workers, SEIU VP Shirley Adebol, Strong Economy for All Executive Director Mike Kink, and SEIU 32BJ officer Melissa Amernick.
Kyle Bragg, President, 32BJ, said: “Today, we sent a clear message to Chipotle; it’s time to deliver the wages and fair schedules your employees need and deserve. We have no intention of wavering on these basic demands for the working New Yorkers who keep this fast-food giant afloat in the nation’s largest city. Now, it’s incumbent upon Chipotle to embrace the New York tradition of workers’ rights or face a fight that even a multi-billion dollar corporation should not take lightly. No matter what, 32BJ and its members stand ready to meet the moment.”
Current Chipotle worker Maria Romero said: “I’m a single mother and CUNY student. I tell Chipotle the shifts I can work but still get scheduled for shifts that don’t work for my schedule. Where are my fair schedules? I need higher wages to support my family and 5-year-old son. Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol made $17.9 million last year. I think he can afford to pay us $20 an hour.”
Chipotle Worker Ed Dealecio: “Pay for people like me is not keeping up with rising costs. We can turn these into secure jobs with dignity and good wages.”
Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union, said: “Chipotle workers in New York are part of the undeniable nationwide uprising of workers demanding to be respected, protected and paid. These brave workers are putting one of the most powerful fast-food employers in America on notice. Whether it’s following the law, paying livable wages or addressing workplace health and safety concerns, it’s time for Chipotle to listen to their workers’ demands and take action ensure Chipotle jobs are good union jobs. I’m proud to stand with them, as are the two million members of SEIU united behind the demand for unions for all.”
Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee, said: “Chipotle is using every dirty trick in the book to avoid paying their workers a dignified wage. I’ll be clear – the NY HERO Act, Just Cause, and Fair Workweek Laws are not gentle suggestions. Both inflation and corporate profits are spiking without worker pay rising to match, and we in New York cannot allow that to continue. I’m standing with Chipotle workers today to demand a minimum of $20 an hour, and for the fast-food giant to stop messing with our workers’ livelihoods.”
Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD), chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, said: “Working New Yorkers need and deserve healthy and respectful working conditions on the job but Chipotle has plainly fallen short of maintaining that standard and ensuring that the rights of their workers are respected on the job. With 600,000 alleged violations of the City’s Fair Workweek and Just Cause laws and additional alleged violation still occurring – it is time for Chipotle to clean-up their act.”
Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN NY said: “ALIGN stands with Chipotle workers in their fight for justice, a $20 minimum wage, fair schedules, and a voice on the job with our union allies in 32BJ. We call on Chipotle to respect their workers’ right to establish workplace safety committees in compliance with the historic New York HERO Act passed last year. These committees ensure that Chipotle’s essential workers immediately have a voice on the job to protect their health and safety as COVID cases rise and workplace injuries remain unacceptably high.”
The Legal Aid Society said: “As New Yorkers confront the increasingly high cost of living here, businesses like Chipotle should be raising wages, not keeping wages down. Our clients and all New York workers need a raise.”
Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project said: “Families in New York are being crushed by the highest inflation in forty years at the same time that New York City’s minimum wage has plummeted and is now lower than those in more than forty other U.S. cities. Chipotle needs to guarantee its workers $20 an hour and fair treatment — and Governor Hochul and the legislature need to make sure the minimum wage across the state keeps up with the skyrocketing cost of living, which means $20 an hour in New York City.”
James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, said: “Chipotle’s customers are repulsed by a restaurant that mistreats and undervalues its workers. Chipotle needs to treat its workers fairly by complying with the City’s Fair Workweek law and raising their pay to at least $20 an hour. Worker exploitation leaves a bad taste in customer’s mouths. Our city’s recovery depends on workers being paid a living wage in high-cost New York City and on businesses respecting and valuing the needs, safety, and desires of their employees to earn a decent living.”
Michael Kink, Executive Director, Strong Economy For All Coalition said: “The vast majority of New Yorkers support higher wages and better working conditions for fast-food workers. And most of us are outraged by CEOs and billionaires getting wealthier and wealthier during the pandemic while front-line workers lose ground. It’s time for $20 an hour and fair schedules at Chipotle, and we will fight in New York City, in Albany, and across the country to make it happen.”
Fast Food Union is fighting to make NYC fast food jobs good, family-sustaining jobs with stable hours and a union voice via 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service workers’ union in the country.