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Chipotle Blacklists Maine Workers Who Tried to Unionize, Union Files NLRB Complaint

Andy O’Brien
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After closing down its restaurant in Augusta last month in a desperate attempt to stop workers from organizing a new independent union,Chipotle Mexican Grill is now blacklisting its former Augusta employees by refusing to consider hiring them at its other locations in Maine. This week, Chipotle United  filed another unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Chipotle for discriminating against former employees for exercising their legal right to organize. 

Last week, former Augusta Chipotle workers discovered that Chipotleis advertising to hire employees at its Auburn, Maine location, about a 45-minute commute from the closed Augusta store. Notably, when Chipotle closed its Augusta restaurant, it did not offer the laid-off employees the opportunity to transfer to other Chipotle locations, even though it offered assistance in finding work elsewhere.

When the Augusta workers discovered that Chipotle was hiring, they immediately sought to apply online, but soon discovered that the company had locked them out from using their email addresses that it already had on file.  

Brandi McNease, the lead organizer of the Augusta workers, then filled out the application using a different email address. This time, she was able to apply, and the Auburn store promptly scheduled her for an interview the following day, August 4.

But before McNease could go for the interview, she received a call from the manager of the Auburn, Maine store telling here that regional manager, Jarolin Maldonado, had directed her not to interview McNease because the union leader supposedly had prior “attendance problems.” The manager further explained to McNease that she didn’t mean to get her hopes up about coming back, but didn’t know that “you were part of that group.” 

McNease denies any such attendance problems. “I never was counseled, let alone disciplined, for any attendance issues,” she said. “In fact, on the day that Chipotle announced it was closing the Augusta, Maine restaurant, Jarolin Maldonado called me and specifically reassured me that I was eligible for rehire.” 

The union’s latest unfair labor practice complaint alleges that Chipotle refused to consider McNease for rehire because of her activity on behalf of the union. Meanwhile, Chipotle workers continue to pressure the company to reopen the Augusta restaurant and cease its union busting.