Rep. Chellie Pingree stands outside her office on the Portland waterfront. Pingree has called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the closure of an Augusta Chipotle location. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, has called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the recent closure of the Augusta Chipotle location.

The Chipotle on Stephen King Drive closed effective Tuesday, and has been closed to the public since Sunday, according to members of the store’s recently-formed union and chain representatives.

The workers accused the chain of union busting, as the store’s closure came on the same day as the National Labor Relations Board was set to hold a hearing to determine the union election process, Maine AFL-CIO spokesperson Andy O’Brien said.

“The timing of Chipotle’s store closure in my district is more than alarming, it raises serious concerns of illegal union-busting. My constituents at the Augusta store followed the rules and were well within their rights to organize the first unionized Chipotle in the country,” Pingree said. “The NLRB should immediately investigate why Chipotle— a Fortune 500 company— would turn around and shutter the first store to propose giving workers a voice.

“If this nationwide, multi-billion-dollar chain is found to have retaliated against workers in the process of unionizing, it must be held to account,” Pingree said.

“Chipotle’s decision to close the Augusta location speaks volumes about how the billion-dollar corporation views its workers – the hardworking individuals who have built their brand and delivered enormous profits. It’s shameful and represents the ultimate form of union-busting. At this point, it is not even about the money anymore; it is about control,” Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, added late Thursday evening. 

I know this because I have experienced this type of retaliation before. Fair wages, safe working conditions, better staffing and reasonable hours shouldn’t be too much to ask for. So let me be clear – I am proud to stand in solidarity with the hardworking folks at the Augusta Chipotle restaurant, and I call on the corporate office to reopen the location and do right by their employees,” Jackson said.

Chipotle workers at the location   voted to form an independent union late last month. That came just a week after the Chipotle workers   staged a two-day walkout in protest of what they called unsafe working conditions and low staffing.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.