Ending the Business of Injustice: Anti-Sweatshop Activism at the University of Michigan, 1999-2007

Chipotle Protest

When Chipotle first opened on State Street on October 9, 2008, a year after the Colman office sit-in, SOLE protested outside the establishment for a $0.01 a pound raise for tomato pickers. While people were waiting for their free promotional burrito, SOLE protested for the change in policy.

This effort was headed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, CIW, in 2006 where the focus was a campaign against Chipotle for both fair food regulation and farmworker rights. The CIW, established in 1993, was comprised of mostly Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants who worked in low-paying jobs throughout Florida.

In August of 2008, students working with USAS collaborated with the Student/Farmworker Alliance, Student Action with Farm Workers and Student Labor Action Project, drafted and issued a letter that condemned Chipotle for a “lack of commitment to human rights and dignity”.  These groups were the main instruments used to maintain the focus of the campaign by holding smaller protests and “pray-ins” at Chipotle establishments across the country.

Later that year in September, the CIW and the supporting organizations launched the “Chipocracy Tour” which took place from September 20th to October 12th. During this protest, the student organizations, workers and supporters went on a tour around the Midwest, stopping at major locations which included the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Witchita, Kansas, Austin, Texas and concluded with a multiple day protest in Denver, Colorado.

The University of Michigan wasn’t a stop on the tour because the Chipotle on State St. didn’t open until the trip had began, but due to USAS intrest, SOLE conducted their own protest of the franchise during its grand opening.


"Coalition of Immokalee Workers demand fair food agreement from Chipotle restaurant, 2006-2012", Global Nonviolent Action Database, October 2012

Rahbi, Yousef, In-Person Interview, March 22, 2015.