“We have not been able to adequately staff this remote restaurant with a team and are still facing over-the-top challenges and a shortage of existing staff.” — Laurie Shalow, Director of Corporate Affairs at Chipotle (cmg)
It said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it has become even more difficult to find managers to lead the restaurant.
“Due to these ongoing staffing issues, there is no chance of reopening in the foreseeable future, which is why we have made the decision to close the restaurant permanently,” she said.
According to Shalov, the restaurant has been closed to visitors since June 17 and was only open for staff training. According to her, the company’s employees will be paid severance pay.
The closure caused alarm among union organizers, who accused the chain of trying to strangle workers.
A hearing on whether to continue voting for representation was scheduled for Tuesday, but workers learned on Tuesday morning that the store would be permanently closed, according to Jeffrey Young, an attorney for Chipotle United, an independent union trying to organize the Augusta site. . The hearing has been adjourned indefinitely, Young said.
Young described the closure as “the destruction of the 101 union”, adding that “it should scare away not only the workers here, but … other Chipotle organizing efforts elsewhere.”
Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan also applied to vote. Similar efforts are being made in Flushing, Queens, and several other “nascent” projects, Young said. Closing “sends a message – if you try to organize, we will close your store,” he said.
Brandi McNeese, who worked in Augusta and led the unionization effort, said “we’re not done yet” with the unionization effort. “We really want to … tell Chipotle that it won’t happen,” she said. In June, a letter signed by 10 Augusta employees was released stating that staffing shortages and unsafe equipment were potentially putting crew and customers at risk. It is reported by the Kennebec Journal.
at that time.
Chipotle’s Shalow said the Augusta store closure had “nothing to do with union activity” and said the company has reevaluated the location like any other location that had staffing issues. “Chipotle respects our employees’ right to organize,” she said.
The battle comes at a time when more Starbucks workers are unionizing. Organizers there also accused the chain of trying to intimidate workers by closing venues.
In June, employees at a Starbucks store in Ithaca, New York, said their store was closed in retaliation for their union activism. At the time, the workers’ committee said it was filing an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, alleging that Starbucks was making a “clear attempt to intimidate workers across the country.” A spokesperson for the company said at the time that Starbucks was opening and closing stores as part of its normal business, without giving specific reasons.
“Our goal is to ensure each partner is supported in their individual situation and we have immediate opportunities available in the market,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in June. Starbucks has also closed a number of stores for safety reasons and will likely continue to do so. Union organizers question whether these steps were taken in good faith.
On Tuesday, Chipotle workers in Augusta filed an unfair labor charge with the NLRB.
– Ramishah Marouf of CNN Business contributed to this report.