Chipotle in Michigan is first of Mexican fast-food chain to unionize

Workers at a Chipotle store in Michigan have voted to unionize, becoming the first of the Mexican fast-food chain's 3,000 locations to do so amid a broader unionization push across the country.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters said workers at a Chipotle store in Lansing, Michigan, "voted overwhelmingly" Thursday to form a union with the Teamsters.

The workers "are forming a union to improve their work schedules, increase wages, and gain the respect from management that they've rightfully earned," the union said in a statement.

Newport Beach, California-based Chipotle said in a statement Friday it is "disappointed that the employees at our Lansing, MI restaurant chose to have a third party speak on their behalf because we continue to believe that working directly together is best for our employees."

Laurie Schalow, the company's chief corporate affairs officer, added that Chipotle "is proud to offer our employees industry-leading benefits such as competitive wages, debt-free degrees, tuition reimbursement up to $5,250 per year, health benefits and quarterly bonuses for all employees."

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The Lansing store's vote to unionize comes amid a broader unionization push across the country, with workers at Starbucks unionizing more than 180 U.S. stores since late last year, while Amazon workers at a warehouse in New York voted to unionize this spring.

In July, Chipotle closed a store in Augusta, Maine, that had been leading efforts to unionize the chain. That closure came after the store's employees filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in June asking to hold a union -- the first of the company's stores to file such a petition, according to NLRB filings.

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Scott Quenneville, the president of the Lansing-based Teamsters Local 243, which represents more than 4,000 workers across Michigan, said the Lansing Chipotle store's workers now "have a union they can be proud of, that knows how to get things done."

"Chipotle pulled in revenue of $7.5 billion last year, and just as we're seeing workers of all ages and backgrounds across the country take on these corporate giants, it's so inspiring to see Chipotle workers stand up and demand more from a company that can clearly afford it," he said in a statement.