Mayor Bill de Blasio’s feeling upset over Chipotle, though it has nothing to do with their food.
Hizzoner joined members of 32BJ on Wednesday afternoon for a rally at Madison Square Park and said the fast-food chain has left a bad taste in their mouth upon breaking numerous worker protection laws. De Blasio vowed to boycott Chipotle — and encouraged fellow New Yorkers to do the same — until the company pays workers what is owed to them.
“Chipotle is cheating its workers! They are getting rich, and they are literally taking pay from the people who serve your food. They are breaking the law shamelessly,” de Blasio told the protesters.
According to 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg, Chipotle owes workers and the city close to $500 million for violating Fair Workweek laws. The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protections has filed a lawsuit with the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings to recoup these funds upon discovering 599,693 violations. Bragg also added that the fast-food chain likewise owes $300 million in civil penalties.
The 32BJ union has been advocating for frontline, fast-food workers throughout the pandemic, since many companies have allegedly attempted to take advantage of the circumstances brought about by the novel coronavirus. Bragg says his union has fought tirelessly for the Fair Workweek law, which secures a steady work schedule and pay for fast-food workers prior to hiring new employees for available shifts.
“Chipotle says their starting minimum wage will remain as low as $11 an hour. In New York City, Chipotle workers are still earning the minimum wage and haven’t had a raise in 3 years. If Chipotle wants to make a real impact, they should guarantee every worker across the nation a minimum of $15 an hour, raise wages for all New York City workers by at least $2 an hour, and pay workers the $150 million they’re owed for Chipotle’s violations of the Fair Workweek Law,” Bragg said.
Restaurant and eatery members of 32BJ held up signs demanding “Pay up Chipotle,” and “Hey, Chipotle follow the law” while the Mayor called the company’s actions “brazen” and “disgusting.”
“A recovery for all of us starts with protecting working New Yorkers, and the City is holding Chipotle accountable for violating workers’ rights,” de Blasio said. “Last year, Chipotle’s CEO took home $38 million and stock prices soared 66%, but they still cheated their workers. It’s pure greed and we’re taking them to court.”
The mayor listened intently as Chipotle staff shared their struggle to pay their rent, bills, and support their families while Chipotle shorted workers on mandates scheduling pay premiums.
“Chipotle more than doubled their CEO’s pay in the middle of a pandemic, from $14 million to $38 million, but the company makes us fight just to get them to follow the law and pay workers what we’re owed. It feels like Chipotle always has their hands in our pockets trying to steal pennies. And for what? This company has plenty of money. We need a union and a raise. And Chipotle needs to pay up for violating the Fair Workweek Law,” said Al Diaz, a Chipotle worker.
The rally continued on with the Mayor promising that Chipotle will be forced to pay up or pay the consequences.
Union members followed his speech with a chant: “Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what you owe.”
In response to the rally, a representative from Chipotle had this to say.
“Chipotle makes it a practice to not comment on litigation and will not do so in this case except to say that it disagrees with the allegations and will vigorously defend itself. Chipotle remains committed to its workers and their right to a fair, just, and humane work environment that provides opportunities to all.”