UPDATE: 6 p.m. -----
Students were startled to find Chipotle, 116 Heister St., was closed today due to “borderline sweatshop conditions,” according to a sign posted on the establishment's door this morning.
Penn State student and former part-time manager Stephen Healy put the sign up, not as an attack on Chipotle, but because he and other employees felt nothing was going to change otherwise, Healy (senior-philosophy) said.
Healy said he has worked at Chipotle for two years as a part-time manager. Like several other managers, Healy put his two weeks in, which ended today.
“I wasn’t trying to unionize or start a revolution,” Healy said.
He also said he doesn’t believe this is an issue for all Chipotle restaurants, but an issue specific to this area.
Healy said the conditions have been getting worse and worse, and much of the staff wants to leave, but many are economically coerced into staying.
Employees end up working well over the hours they are scheduled for, sometimes working up to 11 hours with no break or food, Healy said. The kitchen space is also ill-equipped for the amount of business they frequently experience, he added.
“People shouldn’t have to work under these conditions,” Healy said.
Healy also said he does not want to be the center of the situation. He did what he felt needed to be done to spread awareness about the situation, he said.
“I wish the best of luck to those who chose to stay at Chipotle, and I hope things improve,” he said.
The Chipotle reopened this afternoon.
1:04 p.m. -----
Chris Arnold, communications director for Chipotle Mexican Grill, said via email they are looking to reopen the restaurant shortly.
"Our Penn State restaurant was closed when a few employees quit, locking out a majority of others who are enthusiastic to return to work," Arnold said.
12:18 p.m. -----
Many customers appeared surprised by the closure. Some walked up to the door, tried to open it, and were informed by Butts, who was sitting guard, that they could not go inside.
A man who identified himself as an area manager from Pittsburgh was taking notes to bring to corporate.
The manager told the crew, who were waiting outside, that he wasn't really sure what was going on, but he was there to try to make things better for them.
"So if you guys are wiling, can we go in and sit down, have a conversation?" the manager said.
The manager also asked if he could take the signs down, to which he received replies that the signs expressed how the employees felt.
"I have to take the signs down. I'm here to listen to you guys no matter what, but I have to take the signs down," the manager said.
Gordon Hanczar, the landlord of the property, said, he was worried about the situation.
"As the landlord, I'm really very concerned about this dramatic action."
11:52 a.m. -----
At 11:25 a.m., George Butts sat outside of Chipotle, 116 Heister St, telling eager customers Chipotle is closed and that a corporate manager is speaking to employees.
He showed others a sign the business had posted to the door that reads:
"Want to know why we're closed? Ask our corporate offices why their employees are forced to work in borderline sweatshop conditions. Almost the entire management and crew have resigned"
George Butts is the roommate of an employee.
"[My roommate] has had almost an entire week of not being able to do homework."
He said his roommate often goes to class at 8 a.m., has class until 3 p.m., and works from 3:30 p.m. until close at midnight. He said she doesn't get breaks.
Butts showed the flier to everyone who walked by, claiming that the anger is due to "shitty conditions."