Workers in Lansing Vote Overwhelmingly to Join Teamsters Local 243, Becoming First to Organize Among Restaurant Chain’s 3,000 Locations
(LANSING, Mich.) — Unified workers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Lansing, Michigan, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, making it the first of the restaurant chain’s 3,000 locations to organize.
In addition to the security of a powerful Teamster contract, workers are forming a union to improve their work schedules, increase wages, and gain the respect from management that they’ve rightfully earned.
“Today’s victory is an amazing moment for our team that has worked so hard and spent many months organizing,” said Samantha Smith, 18, a crew member at Chipotle who has worked at the Lansing-area restaurant for more than two years. “We set out to show that our generation can make substantial change in this world and improve our working conditions by taking action collectively. What this vote shows is that workers are going to keep taking the fight to big corporations like Chipotle and demand the working conditions we deserve.”
“We could not be more proud to be the first Chipotle restaurant in the United States to organize,” said Harper McNamara, 19, a crew member at Chipotle who has worked at the Lansing-area restaurant for more than two years. “Forming a union will allow us to have a true voice on the job and force Chipotle to address our concerns. I am so proud of all those who were involved in this effort, and showed the courage needed to take on a huge corporation.”
“We are extremely excited to join the Teamsters Union,” said Atulya Dora-Laskey, 23, a crew member at Chipotle who has worked at the Lansing-area restaurant for nearly one year. “Throughout this process, the Teamsters have shown us that they have our backs and are dedicated to doing whatever possible to support us in our fight against this huge corporation. We look forward to negotiating a strong Teamsters contract that will improve working conditions and raise wages at Chipotle.”
The workers filed for the election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on July 5. The corporate-owned restaurant did not object to the filing.
“The Teamsters Union is home to 1.2 million workers, and all of us are fighting for our brothers and sisters at Chipotle to get the rights and workplace protections they deserve,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Now is the time for working people in this country to take back what’s theirs. No matter your industry, no matter your age or how intimidating your employer may seem, you too can protect your labor with a union. The revitalization of labor is really just beginning.”
“Chipotle pulled in revenue of $7.5 billion last year, and just as we’re seeing workers of all ages and backgrounds across the country take on these corporate giants, it’s so inspiring to see Chipotle workers stand up and demand more from a company that can clearly afford it,” said Scott Quenneville, President of Local 243. “The Teamsters have these workers’ backs. They’re going to have a union they can be proud of, that knows how to get things done.”
Chipotle workers in Lansing join the growing wave of workers across the country who are organizing to secure better workplace conditions, including at other major corporations such as Starbucks, Apple, and Amazon. Last month, Chipotle permanently closed its Augusta, Maine location after workers filed for union recognition, a common union-busting technique used in restaurant and retail chains. Despite Chipotle’s efforts to intimidate workers into forgoing organizing efforts, workers in Lansing remained united in their effort to secure a voice on the job, and their victory signifies a pivotal moment for workers at fast casual restaurant chains across the country.
Chipotle has four locations in and around Lansing. Local 243, with union halls in Lansing and Plymouth Township, proudly represents more than 4,000 workers across Michigan.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents workers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.