Chipotle Faces Union Protest In Response To Supplier Problems

Connor D. Wolf | Reporter

Chipotle Mexican Grill faced a union protest Tuesday in California over a series of alleged workplace health and safety violations at one of its suppliers.

The Teamsters held the protest in coordination with several advocacy groups. The protestors called on the Mexican restaurant chain to denounce supplier Taylor Farms over alleged workplace safety violations. The California government previously cited the supplier did not properly address October 2015 toxic spills, among other safety violations.

Taylor Farms supplies tomatoes and peppers at Chipotle restaurants along the West Coast.

“During the spill, workers were ordered to keep working, and were warned not to talk about the incident,” Teamsters International Vice President Rome Aloise said in a statement. “When Taylor Farms workers came together to form their union, the company responded with firings, intimidation and threats of deportation. Today, we protest these offenses at Chipotle restaurants nationwide.”

Aloise added the supplier threatened workers with firings and intimidation for trying to form a union. He noted the health concerns and workplace violations prompted workers to seek outside help by organized labor. Chipotle responded to the protest by noting it will not involve themselves in the dispute.

“The Teamsters demonstrations do not have anything to do with Chipotle directly, but rather involve a dispute between the union and one of our produce suppliers,” A Chipotle spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We do not intend to insert ourselves into this dispute.”

Taylor Farms faces over $95,000 in fines in response to the toxic chemical spill alone. California workplace safety officials have also issued over forty safety and health violations against the supplier. The Teamsters believe Chipotle should put pressure on its supplier to address the workplace health violations.

Chipotle experienced a public relations outcry of its own last year over the spread of E. Coli to a handful of restaurants. The restaurant took aggressive steps to stop the spread, including closing several locations until they were deemed safe again. The Teamsters organized the protest in coordination with Working Partnerships USA, the Consumer Federation of California and HEAL Food Alliance.

Taylor Farms did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.

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