Officials blast Augusta store closure as union-busting
AUGUSTA — On Thursday, all three Democratic leaders in the Maine House of Representatives shared supportive statements in response to news that Chipotle workers in Augusta are facing union-busting tactics. The closure announcement follows the crew filing a petition for a union election in late June. The Maine store was the first location where Chipotle workers began unionizing. Since then, organizing drives have begun in Michigan, New York, and elsewhere.
Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford:
“The decision to close the Augusta Chipotle, the first store in the country where workers filed for a union election, is a blatant union-busting practice. This move shows Chipotle is trying to instill fear and using this Maine store as an example. I stand in solidarity with the workers organizing for a better workplace. It is disturbing and shameful that the company would shutter a store where workers are fighting to improve the conditions and service.”
House Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy of Old Town:
“As a longtime union member, I know firsthand how rewarding it is when workers can organize and collectively bargain. Chipotle closing the Augusta store signals to other Chipotle workers that if they organize, they could be out of a job. That’s just not right, and I’m proud the Chipotle United workers here in Maine are fighting back. These union members have petitioned the NLRB to seek an injunction to compel Chipotle to reopen the store and to pay workers back until that happens. The right to organize is fundamental to improving labor conditions and fundamental to our democracy. It is a right that must be respected, and I’m extremely disappointed that Chipotle is attempting to punish these Maine workers.”
Assistant Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland:
“The rest of the country is watching as Chipotle retaliates against its own employees and engages in what appear to be unfair labor practices. Still, the Augusta workers are not backing down in their efforts to organize. They have said the underhanded attempt to shut down their labor movement will make them fight harder. We are rooting for them and will continue to stand in strong solidarity with those fighting for dignity, safety and an equal opportunity in the workplace. As workers organize, companies have the opportunity to do better. Unfortunately, the reaction from Chipotle here in Maine is to act unfairly, and it is plain wrong.”
The two top House Democrats are also union members. Maine unions saw their ranks swell over the last three years. As a result of the recent Augusta Chipotle and Biddeford Starbucks organizing efforts, Maine AFL-CIO has reported the number of calls from fast food employees seeking to form unions has spiked dramatically.