Pennsylvania Chipotle Workers Walk Out, Sign Alleges “Sweatshop Conditions”



It’s not clear what happened at the Chipotle restaurant in State College, Pennsylvania, but we do know some things. The restaurant was closed for several hours this morning and afternoon. At first, all that aspiring burrito-eaters knew was that the store was closed. A sign in the window claimed that most of the employees had quit in protest of “borderline sweatshop conditions,” so the shop had to close.

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Ask our corporate offices why their employees are forced to work in borderline sweatshop conditions. Almost the entire management and crew have resigned.

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Soon, the sign disappeared, and Chipotle contacted local news outlets to do some damage control. “Unfortunately we had to close this location after a few employees quit, locking out a majority of others who are enthusiastic to return to work. We expect the restaurant to re-open shortly,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to press and to hungry customers. Maybe this is true, or maybe the entire staff walked out: whatever the case, corporate brought in reinforcements and the store re-opened in time for dinner. Just in time, apparently.

In an interview with local publication Onward State, a former manager of the Chipotle explained the conditions that led to a staff walkout. This was an independent revolt, not affiliated (as far as we know) with the nationwide unionization drive and wave of protests with the goal of improving wages in the fast food industry.

The manager told Onward State that the store is grossly understaffed: it has about half as many people as a restaurant with that much business should have, and employees were working for stretches of 10 or 12 hours with no meal breaks. This morning, the manager says, yet another employee quit, and at that point the management decided to shut the place down and put that sign in the window.

These two accounts don’t conflict with each other: Chipotle’s spin makes sense if the managers were the frustrated ones, trying to keep an understaffed restaurant going with no help from corporate. Regular line workers are, as Chipotle says, probably delighted to return.

Chipotle Closes Amid ‘Heinous’ Working Conditions [Onward State]

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