River North Taco Joint Closes Leading Ex-Workers to Protest Wage Theft

Taco Joint is closed in River North.

Workers picketed Tuesday in front of the Lincoln Park location

It’s been about two weeks since the River North location of Taco Joint has closed, and some of the Mexican restaurant’s former employees aren’t happy. A group of protesting workers showed up in front of Taco Joint Lincoln Park on Tuesday night alleging that ownership owes them money. Workers say ownership owes them a combined $25,000 in wages.

Some workers hadn’t been paid in weeks prior to the October 31 closure at 158 W. Ontario Street, according to Arise Chicago’s Jorge Mujica. Ownership repeatedly pushed back payday while promising they’d be paid the following week.

About 10 days ago, fed up with not being paid, four workers contacted Arise Chicago, the advocacy group that pushed the city to establish a labor standards office to protect workers’ rights. Arise helped organize the workers and they started meeting. Mujica said they compiled a list of 25 affected workers. The amounts owed vary per worker, he said — from $400 to $1,600.

Tuesday’s protest prompted Taco Joint owner Edgar Castañeda to schedule a meeting with workers, Mujica said. A spokesperson for Castañeda confirmed the meeting and added that he “fully intends to remedy any financial obligations to his former employees.” He added that he sympathized with the workers gathered outside Lincoln Park: “The manner of making funds available to a company that is insolvent is challenging,” Castañeda added. “I am working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”

Taco Joint River North debuted 2013, a follow-up to Castañeda’s Lincoln Park taqueria. The location near the corner of Halsted and Armitage opened in 2011.

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