Chipotle has its first unionized store in company history.
The restaurant, based in Lansing, Michigan, voted 11-3 in favor of forming with the Teamsters Union. According to CNBC, Chipotle has five days to object, or else the National Labor Relations Board will certify the results and the brand must begin negotiating in good faith. The restaurant filed to unionize on July 5, and Chipotle did not oppose the move. The chain oversees more than 3,000 company-owned restaurants across the U.S.
"[Thursday's] victory is an amazing moment for our team that has worked so hard and spent many months organizing," Samantha Smith, who's worked at the store for more than two years, said in a statement. 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."
Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, expressed disappointment with the vote, stating the company continues to "believe that working directly together is best for our employees."
The historic news follows the controversy at Chipotle's Augusta, Maine, unit, which was the first to file for unionization in late June. Employees wanted to be recognized as independent union Chipotle United in response to significant understaffing concerns. The workers even walked out in protest prior to the filing. However, Chipotle permanently shuttered the store in July because it couldn't find enough employees. Brandi McNease, an employee at the location, described it as "union busting 101," and Chipotle United filed a complaint against the chain.
The Teamsters called it 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," the Teamsters said in a statement.
Meanwhile, for Starbucks, more than 220 of its roughly 9,000 U.S. corporate stores have filed to unionize. Thirty-four more elections have been ordered or are in progress, according to CNBC, and seven other locations are waiting to schedule an election. The coffee giant recently asked the NLRB to suspend all elections and conduct an investigation in response to a whistleblower alleging misconduct between the NLRB and union officials.