Fight for $15 returns to NYC with Chipotle in its crosshairs
Workers rally outside a Chipotle burrito restaurant in NYC on Oct. 23. | SEIU 32BJ

NEW YORK (PAI)—The union-backed “Fight for $15 and a union” movement of low-wage workers nationwide returned to its birthplace, New York City, Oct. 23, as marchers descended on Chipotle franchises in the Big Apple.

Aided by Service Employees Local 32BJ, the workers demanded this fast-food burrito giant recognize their decision to organize and obey New York City ordinances covering working conditions, too. The state’s and city’s minimum wage is already higher than the national minimum of $7.25. The city minimum is $15 an hour.

Chipotle is forced to obey that law, said Local 32BJ President Kyle Bragg.

But it still doesn’t recognize its workers’ right to organize without employer interference, intimidation, and harassment—the other key demand of the Fight for $15 and a union movement. That led to the rally and following parade, including members of Teamsters Joint Council 16, the National Employment Law Project, and Workers United, another SEIU sector.

To publicize their cause, and Chipotle’s resistance, the workers and their allies mobilized at 6th Avenue and 13th Street. After speeches from Bragg, politicians, and workers, fast food workers from all over the Big Apple staged the parade of “drummers, with Local 32BJ SEIU colors on banners, shirts, hats, flags, and bandanas,” and added “street theater and singing,” 32BJ reported.

“The crowd then marched up to 14th Street and east to Irving Place, to the location of another Chipotle store.”

The parade wasn’t the workers’ only action shining a light on Chipotle’s abuses. The workers and 32BJ filed wage and hour complaints against ten Chipotle stores citywide with the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The agency has already fined Chipotle $1 million for wage and hour violations at four of the chain’s Brooklyn fast food stores.

“My fast food co-workers and I are students putting ourselves through school,” Brianna Augustin told the crowd before the march began.

“Some of us are parents of school-age children. And some of us”—including her—“are expectant mothers worried about the world we are bringing children into,” added Augustin. Many if not most of the fast-food workers are people of color, 32BJ adds.

“We are from all walks of life and we work in foodservice to earn incomes to care for ourselves and our families. We stand up today to speak truths about our working conditions because we want a future where our children will not have to deal with the economic injustices that we are facing now,” Augustin said.


CONTRIBUTOR

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Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.

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