Former Augusta Chipotle employees unable to get jobs at neighboring locations

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2022 at 10:16 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Former workers from the Chipotle in Augusta say they have been black-listed from working at neighboring stores.

What was once a busy Chipotle at the Marketplace in Augusta now has the door off the hinges and equipment coming out.

“It’s weird to see it outside of the building and I looked at it for a long time to try to figure out what piece of the store it was,” said Brandi McNease, former Chipotle employee.

Movers spent Wednesday pulling it all out and into a U-Haul parked outside.

“This isn’t where it belongs, like it should be in the store. We should still be in the store. It doesn’t make any sense,” said McNease.

McNease was one of the workers who pledged to form a union after initially rallying in front of the store - citing unsafe work conditions.

“We worked two weeks through a gas leak but they told us it didn’t exist until the flames started shooting out and they had to acknowledge it,” said McNease.

A few hours before the workers were scheduled to meet with the National Labor Relations Board about their union election, Chipotle announced that they were closing the store.

“They said we can’t keep the store. We can’t staff the store. Sorry. We tried really hard. We came in and we spent a bunch of money on you and we sent some recruiters and we just can’t staff this store,” said McNease.

McNease says she was told they were rehireable and says she had to use a new email address to apply to the store in Auburn, because her initial email address would not work. Nonetheless, she got a call for an interview.

“The morning of the interview, the GM called and said, ‘Hi. I’m sorry to do this. I have to cancel the interview. It looks like you are not eligible for rehire due to the attendance issues you have at the other store,’” said McNease.

Her lawyer, Jefferey Young, says they should have gotten preferential hiring. He says he knows at least four of the employees from the Augusta Chipotle who tried to apply with their emails and couldn’t.

“We are seeking is to require that these chain restaurants and fast-food outlets of the like offer preferential hiring at their other locations,” said Young.

He says there needs to be federal laws that protect employees and serve as a deterrent from stopping unionization.

He says right now businesses can close their doors without substantial monetary penalties.

In the mean time, McNease says she will continue her fight and to be an example.

“My hope is that we are going to stop this trend in its tracks, that corporations are going to watch Starbucks kind of get away with it, and then Chipotle tried to get away with it. And we’re gonna have enough power and pushback this time to show that corporations don’t have unlimited power just because they have so much money,” said McNease.

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