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Chipotle protest: Eight arrested downtown

Police escort one of the arrested demonstrators out of the Chipotle.
Police escort one of the arrested demonstrators out of the Chipotle.

A demonstration by fired Chiptole workers and their union allies ended with eight arrests at a downtown Chipotle restaurant this afternoon.

The action was only the latest in a series of protests by the workers, who were fired from Chipotle restaurants across Minnesota after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit turned up employees without proper work papers.

Since the firings in December, the workers have been joined by members of the Service Employees International Union Local 26, whose members were among those arrested today at the Nicollet Mall restaurant.

"Immigrant families and their allies will not stand by while corporations continue to exploit and benefit from a broken immigration system," said Greg Nammacher, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 26.

The workers are demanding that Chipotle give them more time to produce valid work documents, and that the company pay them any outstanding wages from their last days of work.

No Justice, No Burritos: Arrests at the Chipotle in downtown Minneapolis
No Justice, No Burritos: Arrests at the Chipotle in downtown Minneapolis

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told City Pages the workers' demands are misplaced.

"We are paying everyone everything they are owed, including wages, back-pay and vacation time. We are not aware of any case in which workers have not been paid what they are owed. When we met with the workers, we said 'If you are aware of any case in which someone still is owed, have them contact us.' Since then we have not heard from a single person."

As for the demand for more time, Arnold said the government leaves Chipotle no choice.

"We asked ICE that question specifically, if we could have 90 days to resolve cases on an individual basis, and we were told, absolutely not," he said. "We agree that the immigration laws in their current form are untenable -- they don't work well for anyone. But not complying with that request is not something that we can do under the law."

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