Workers In Maine Organize First Chipotle Union

Radiofreemaine/ April 27, 2022/ Unions

An independent union at Mexican Food Chain Chipotle in the United States has officially been formed after workers at a location in Augusta, Maine, acquired union cards from the majority of its employees on Wednesday.

The workers have formed a new union they are calling Chipotle United. They claim they are not yet looking to join forces with the Service Employees International Union. That particular Union has been trying to organize Chipotle employees in New York City. Workers at the Augusta location sent a letter to management and Chipotle’s corporate offices informing them of their desire to organize a union, according to the Central Maine Morning Sentinel. It is extremely doubtful that the firm or store management will accept the union’s voluntary recognition without a fight, however.

Unionized Workforces

A unionized workforce makes it more difficult for employers like Chipotle to abuse its exploited workers. These people generate billions of dollars in revenue from their labor. In order to compel a vote on formal union recognition, it is likely that these employees will have to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board. This will likely expose them to corporate reprisal and intimidation strategies. For instance, numerous workers have experienced harassment, termination, or other types of management retaliation. This has happened at both Amazon and Starbucks while organizing for union elections, and occasionally even after.

These workers are merely the most recent in a string of well-publicized unionization initiatives. There have been many successful efforts at food service establishments, shops, and corporate warehouses around the nation. Workers at Starbucks, Apple retail stores, and Amazon warehouses have all successfully structured their workplaces during the past six months. Even though the 14 million American workers who are currently unionized may make these unionization attempts, particularly those at Apple and Chipotle, appear insignificant, their successes are a crucial sign of what is to come.

In the US, Chipotle employs close to 100,000 people. Starbucks is close to 400,000, and Amazon, the biggest of the three, employs close to one million people. We could witness one of the largest increases in union density in at least the previous 60 years. This obviously depends if these unionization efforts succeeding in reaching the remaining employees in these enterprises. This surge in membership and the resulting vigor may be the unions’ ideal catalyst for igniting a more militant labor movement.

The work of Unions

There are crucial tasks ahead of us. These include supporting, defending, and aiding in the organization of this new generation of militant workers. This is because such union initiatives go beyond just discussing pay, benefits, and working conditions. They deal with the general future of the working class. The real strength of unions extends well beyond the workplace; even while contract disputes and conflicts with the employer can be crucial and necessary schools of war for the working class. Working people can learn about the true worth of their labor in unions. Also, they can find out how to harness that power for class-wide collective action.

Unions have a role to play in combating oppression as well as exploitation; from the latest wave of right-wing campaigns against trans people and abortion rights to racist police violence. Both Starbucks and Amazon employees have emphasized how closely their labor disputes are tied to social justice issues, such as the fight for LGBTQ+ and Black Lives. Of course, unions may and must utilize their influence to fight for improved living standards for all workers, including access to universal healthcare, free public higher education, livable public housing, secure renewable energy sources, and other basics of life that capitalism denies us.

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