Chipotle permanently closes Maine store, halting union efforts

Chipotle permanently closes a store in Maine before labor organizers have a chance to try to unionize.

The fast-food chain told FOX Business on Wednesday that its restaurant in Augusta, which has been closed to the public since June 17 “due to staffing issues,” will close permanently.

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GCM CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC. 1,374.41 +31.96 +2.38%

The closure comes after a majority of the store’s 20 employees filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in June calling for union elections. It was the first time that one of the Mexican food chain sites had asked to organize, according to documents filed by the NLRB.

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The NLRB confirmed to FOX Business on Wednesday that a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the details of the election and Chipotle’s objections to the referendum. However, the reunion was officially postponed indefinitely after the company announced it would be closing the store.

Chipotle burrito loading area

Chipotle burrito loading area (iStock/iStock)

Still, Chipotle United, the group that had tried to unionize Augusta, fought on. After Chipotle’s announcement, the group filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB. An unfair labor practice, as defined by the labor board, is “an action by an employer or union that violates national labor relations law.”

Union organizers say Chipotle is retaliating for their efforts to organize workers and is trying to send a message to other stores that may be trying similar tactics.

“We call this unionism 101,” said Jeffrey Young, an attorney for Chipotle United, the group that was trying to unionize the Augusta store.

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Meanwhile, Chipotle’s director of general affairs, Laurie Schalow, blamed the shutdown on personnel issues.

Schalow said in a statement that the company had tried to keep the store open for training “while we have made extraordinary efforts to try to staff the restaurant, including deploying two dedicated recruitment experts to this restaurant.” .

However, “despite these efforts, we have been unable to adequately staff this remote restaurant and continue to be plagued by excessive calls and unavailability of existing staff,” it said. she continued.

Schalow said it was even difficult to find managers for the location.

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“Due to these staffing challenges, there is no likelihood of reopening in the foreseeable future, so we have made the decision to permanently close the restaurant,” she continued.

Augusta employees will still receive severance pay and job search assistance.

According to the NLRB, both sides have until July 27 to justify whether there should be a hearing on the election or whether the motion should be dismissed entirely.

Chipotle operates more than 3,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Germany.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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