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NYC Chipotle workers stage mini-strike, file five new complaints in bitter battle over employees’ schedules

2019-09-24

Workers at five more city Chipotle Mexican Grill outlets accused the fast food chain Tuesday of violating city law by messing with their schedules.

“Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what they’re owed!” chanted the crowd of about 30 workers before employees at the Sixth Ave. store in Greenwich Village walked off the job in a staged strike.

Workers at another four Chipotle outlets in the city planned to join the Manhattan group in charging their employer had violated city law in making their work schedules.

“Right now, we’re fighting for our rights as Chipotle workers,” said part-time employee Carlos Hernandez, 20. “I honestly don’t believe the management shows the employees respect. They just don’t want to give us the hours. They don’t want to give us more money.”

Hernandez added that he was threatened by a store manager with a loss of benefits if he joined efforts to unionize the workers. More than 20 Chipotle restaurants citywide are now facing complaints, according to the Service Employees International Union 32BJ.

An email to Chipotle for comment was not immediately returned.

Two weeks ago, the city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced a lawsuit seeking $1 million from Chipotle, including restitution for workers, for violating a city law requiring employers to give staff a two-week advance notice of their work schedules and to pay premiums for last-minute re-scheduling.

“We just want them to follow the Fair Workweek Laws,” said Chipotle worker Jeremy Espinal, 20, an 18-month veteran of the company. “They’re trying to do us dirty by keeping us dumb. And on top of that, they’re keeping us stressed by keeping our hours low.”

Protesters held signs demanding “Respect our schedules” and “Follow the NYC Fair Work Week Laws.”

“All fast food workers deserve fair treatment," said City Council speaker Corey Johnson. “The Council worked hard to pass the Fair Workweek Legislation in 2017, which requires all workers get the stable lives they deserve. It also means no fast food establishment is above the law.”

The job action did little to impress a man eating lunch in the Village location as the protest went on.

“Whatever they want to do, they can do it,” the unfazed diner declared. “I mean, they don’t seem so unhappy.”