Chipotle Is Paying $240,000 To Settle With Its Union. Here's Why

In July 2022, Chipotle workers in Augusta, Maine, became the first employees of the Mexican-American franchise in the country to schedule a hearing for a union election, with support from a Chipotle Workers United petition. But on the morning the hearing was set to take place, a regional Chipotle manager shut down the store for good, putting employees out of work and preventing a vote from taking place. "It was a slap in the face," Augusta employee James Forbes told Maine Public at the time. As of this writing, the store remains closed due to staffing shortages.

Workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and come November, the NLRB accused Chipotle of violating the National Labor Relations Act. 

Chipotle has since denied the allegations of union-busting in a statement provided to the Associated Press. But union organizers can't help but view the corporation's decision to shut down the store as an attempt to prevent a union vote from taking place. Now, four months later, Chipotle is ponying up $240,000 in a settlement with Chipotle Workers United and the NLRB.

The settlement will cover employees' lost pay

In a Facebook video shared by Maine AFL-CIO, a Chipotle Workers United representative confirmed that Chipotle will pay $240,000 in back pay and forward pay to Augusta workers affected by the July 2022 closure. The settlement also holds that employees who lost their positions at the outpost will get "preferential rehiring" at "another Chipotle location in the area."

Chipotle still denies that the closure was an act of retaliation against union employees. Rather, the company claims that "the time, energy, and cost to litigate would have far outweighed the settlement agreement," per a statement Laurie Schalow, the brand's chief corporate affairs officer, provided to Restaurant Dive.

It's clear from the settlement that Chipotle HQ is not receiving counsel from former Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz. The coffee giant continues to push back against allegations of union-busting put forward by Starbucks workers and the NLRB, even in the midst of massive Starbucks worker strikes