Big banks aren’t the only companies Occupy Wall Street protesters are targeting.In their May Day return, the movement is planning a visit to Chipotle across Bryant Park, Capital Grille at 42nd street, and Hot & Crusty’s Park Avenue office to protest for labour and immigration rights.
Phil Arnone, an Occupy founder, calls these businesses “super-villains who profit from the injustices we endure.”
“Every human being but American Indians in the U.S. is an immigrant or a descendent of immigrants,” Arnone told us. “Some immigrants came freely, others had less choice, and slaves had none. But all the same this is our home now, it will be what we make it.”
It might be difficult to imagine anyone disliking Chipotle, but OWS accuses the restaurant of knowingly hiring workers without proper documentation, yet not protecting them when the burrito chain’s hiring practices were examined in an audit last year.
Furthermore, Arnone says the group will be protesting against Chipotle because the company refuses to “accede to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Agreement.”
In a letter from students at the University of Pennsylvania, the restaurant is accused of not living up to their “food with integrity” image:
“We, the undersigned student groups of the University of Pennsylvania wish to express our deep concern with Chipotle’s refusal to sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
Chipotle has built its 1163 stores and $2.27 billion revenue on its image of serving “Food with Integrity.” They claim to focus on ensuring the products they use “are grown, made and shipped without exploiting people.” Yet they refuse to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and put an end to injustices in their tomato supply chain.
The steps the company claims to be taking fall far short of the substantive, verifiable and enforceable standards that other companies have embraced, consumers have come to expect, and the situation requires.”
OWS will also be picketing in front of Hot & Crusty’s owner Mark Samson’s office because he knew about occurrences of “wage theft, discrimination, intimidation and sexual harassment on the job,” yet has done nothing to stop it, Arnone told us.
And Capital Grille restaurant will have one of their own employees leading the protest against them: Ignacio Villegas, a pantry cook from Mexico encourages protesters to follow him to the picket lines:
“Your participation in May Day as immigrant workers is very important, because we live in the shadows and our working conditions are like slavery. Our presence on May 1st will tell the elected officials, bosses and other people in power that we are also part of the economy. As workers in the richest country in the world, we aren’t getting any of the wealth we create.”