New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week called for a boycott of Chipotle Mexican Grill over the chain’s alleged violations of the city’s fair workweek rules.
De Blasio’s remarks came at a rally Wednesday with Chipotle workers and union members to bring awareness to New York City’s $450 million suit against the burrito chain.
“Here’s my message to Chipotle,” de Blasio said, according to a transcript provided by the city. “We don’t want your burritos. We don’t want your rice and beans. We just want you to give dignity to working people and stop this madness … But, otherwise, I’m not going near a Chipotle. I don’t think anyone else should, too. Because I don’t want to give a dollar, a single dollar, to a company that cheats working people.”
The mayor’s comments come a couple of weeks after New York City filed a complaint against the chain. Chipotle was cited for eight violations, including failure to provide written estimates of work schedules, failure to provide advance notice of schedules, failure to allow the use of sick time and more.
Punishment for the violations could total nearly $300 million in civil penalties as well as more than $150 million in back pay.
On Thursday, Chipotle again said it would “vigorously defend” itself against the city’s charges.
“Chipotle makes it a practice to not comment on litigation and will not do so in this case except to say that it disagrees with the allegations and will vigorously defend itself,” Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow said in a statement to Restaurant Business. “Chipotle remains committed to its workers and their right to a fair, just and humane work environment that provides opportunities to all.”
De Blasio had harsh words for Chipotle during the rally with representatives from 32 BJ SEIU, the property service workers union that is throwing its support behind Chipotle workers in this fight.
“Chipotle is cheating its workers,” he said. “Chipotle thinks they’re so wonderful, so special and that we’re all not going to notice that they’re breaking the law … They are law breakers, period. And they will pay.”
Earlier this week, Chipotle announced it would raise its average hourly pay to $15, up from $13, as it seeks to hire 20,000 new workers in a tight market.
During his Thursday morning press conference, de Blasio munched on a Shake Shack burger and fries in announcing that the fast-casual burger chain would be giving out free burgers and fries at its New York City locations to customers who have been vaccinated.