Photo: Martin Lee/REX USA.
Last week, fast-food workers across the country walked out on their jobs and staged protests demanding a $15-an-hour wage and the right to unionize. Nearly 500 people were arrested — including 21 workers who sat down in the middle of 42nd Street in front of the Times Square McDonald's.
Far from slowing down, it seems like unrest in the fast-food industry is only gaining momentum. Yesterday, a Chipotle near Pennsylvania State University had to temporarily close its doors following a mass employee walkout. The reason everyone up and left? According to a sign they left behind, they felt like they were forced to work in "borderline sweatshop conditions." They also called out Chipotle for putting profits ahead of people.
A spokesperson for Chipotle offered a different version of the story in an email to Bloomberg. "Our Penn State restaurant was closed when a few employees quit, locking out a majority of others who are enthusiastic to return to work." The location had re-opened by the afternoon.
In a subsequent post on Reddit, many current and former employees of the chain aired their grievances with the company as a whole. A few of the highlights:
"Literally the worst place I've ever worked at. I've never had to work so hard to be so unappreciated in my entire life. I'd go home crying every day. To add to their cruelty, I have heart problems and would pass out sometimes during my shift and my GM would yell at me and tell me how it's unacceptable."
"... after work, they would make me punch out and then wait off the clock for 30+ mins while my ride waited outside for me to speak to a manager and write in a journal about my strengths and weaknesses. I found out later that the reason they keep this journal is so that you'll admit your screw ups so if they want to fire you later they have proof that you admitted you suck. "
"I worked at a Chipotle for several months not too long ago. I can tell you, it is the hardest minimum wage job that I've ever had. They expect world class service, food preparation and cooking, but they paid us nothing. I could write for days and days about how bad things got. I stayed until things were literally intolerable. When your store is expected to run at peak hours with four employees, for days on end. Minimum wage, terrible benefits, excessive work load, and insane hours. How could you possibly stay there. In the four months I worked there, 12 people quit. "
While we're not sure what impact, if any, this latest uprising will have on the broader living wage movement, it's worth remembering that Chipotle's co-CEOs made a combined $49.5 million last year. Maybe it's time they realize that refusing to offer better pay and benefits will only hurt their bottom line in the long run. It'll definitely make us stop and think before we grab our next burrito bowl. [via Bloomberg]