New York, NY –Today, union leaders, 32BJ SEIU members, elected officials, and allies joined former and current Chipotle workers at a City Hall Park rally celebrating the introduction of two key NYC Council bills targeting fast-food companies that have repeatedly violated NYC employment laws, like Chipotle. Both pieces of legislation build upon hallmark employment victories such as the Fair Workweek law and Just Cause provisions to bring further sunlight upon fast-food employers that have violated NYC employment regulations with impunity.
Intro 0613 would empower the City to deny, suspend, or revoke the fast food restaurant permits of repeat offenders. Additionally, Intro 0640 permits the City to mandate that fast food employers provide employer-paid training for their employees regarding the latter’s rights.
“Thanks to these bills, corporations like Chipotle who thought that our hard-won employment rights did not apply to them now face a choice; cease violating our city’s laws or risk losing your very right to run your business in New York,” said 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg. “At the same time, the very same fast food employers that routinely float our employment laws will now bear the cost of educating their workers about the rights all employees enjoy thanks to those same laws. 32BJ SEIU thanks Council Members Carmen De La Rosa and Marjorie Velázquez for their leadership on these two bills, which provide the City with the tools to ensure that even the most brazen violators in the fast food industry face real consequences.”
“If it weren’t for speaking with organizers at 32BJ, I wouldn’t know my rights as a fast food worker in NYC,” said Chipotle worker Ashley Zevala. “While I have been fortunate to learn about protections like the Fair Workweek and Just Cause laws, there are many others who remain in the dark about their rights. I’m excited that these bills aim to hold companies accountable for the way they treat their workers because I’m tired of hearing the same horror stories from my fellow workers!”
The rally comes only two days after City Hally’s announcement on Tuesday regarding a $20 million settlement with Chipotle. Over 2018 and 2019, 32BJ SEIU New York City filed complaints against Chipotle regarding the company’s violations of the Fair workweek law across 38 NYC restaurants. The entirety of the multi-million dollar settlement will be distributed as worker relief. An additional $1 million goes to the City as a civil fine.
“As chair of the labor committee, my goal is to protect our workers and ensure that they have dignity,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “If major corporations are operating within our city bounds, then they must be held accountable for their treatment of workers. With the introduction of this pair of bills, we are looking to strengthen protections of the Just Cause and Fair Workweek laws. I am empowered by union leaders and activists, especially those at 32BJ SEIU, who continue to fight for worker protections.”
“Our food service workers deserve the same level of respect as any of our other workers. These are the very employees who were frontline workers during the pandemic and have continued to serve our communities,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “There is no reason for corporations to exploit their employees and limit their access to resources and information that benefit both parties. Not providing predictable schedules and not educating employees on their rights is a stab in the back to the very individuals that keep these businesses afloat. We all know someone working in the service industry with first-hand knowledge about how daunting the working conditions can be. This exploitation ends now!”
“There is no food without workers, there is no business without workers, there is no revenue without workers, and this City does not move without hard-working New Yorkers like those at Chipotle and other fast food restaurants. As a fellow teamster and former fast food worker myself, I am proud to see the momentum of the labor movement continuing to make progress in the fast food sector,” said Council Member Amanda Farías. “These employees work long hours, are usually under-paid, and often work in unsafe conditions. It is critical that we as local leaders in the Council do everything we can to safeguard and codify worker protections in New York City. I want to thank Chair De La Rosa and Chair Velázquez for your leadership in protecting workers across the City and a huge congratulations to all current and former Chipotle workers on your well-deserved settlement.”
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.