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Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Colectivo Coffee Union Vote Tied

With 16 ballots being contested the union election is currently tied

Brian Young's picture
Apr 07, 2021

In Wisconsin and Illinois, workers at Colectivo, a midwestern coffee company, have organized and held a vote on joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 494.

For over a year the workers organized with the union gaining authorization cards. In March of 2020, they filed a public petition to get some stores closed with pay, while the pandemic raged across the country. As other companies closed, Colectivo decided to stay open and the workers petition fell on deaf ears. Instead, their stores and warehouses stayed open with no hazard pay being offered, no PPE being given, and no social distancing occurring. This kicked the organizing drive into high gear and the workers reached out to a bunch of unions including the Teamsters, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the IBEW before deciding to go with the IBEW since they would be able to negotiate a contract that covered all of the workers, including store clerks, roasters, warehouse workers and delivery drivers.

Once the workers made their organizing campaign public, the company hired union-busters, paying them $1,500 a day even though the company claimed to be losing money. Workers were forced into captive audience meetings and some of the organizers were fired, including five organizing committee members. The company even sent out an email with the names of the organizing committee members on it with the ones who had been fired crossed out.


Facing this intense union busting campaign, workers voted on whether to join a union and a unique result occurred. Out of the 300 eligible voters, 99 voted for the union and 99 voted against, with 16 contested ballots. With the vote tied, these contested votes will decide the election.

“Due to the number of challenged ballots in the Colectivo Coffee election, results of the election will require an NLRB hearing to determine the outcome,” said Local 494 Business Manager Dean A. Warsh. “Once decisions to either include or exclude these ballots have been made, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will open the ballots at a later date to tabulate results. The time frame will depend on the scheduling of the hearing by the NLRB and/or opening of ballots. We do not know the dates when this will take place.”

Warsh went on to say that the union is very proud of what the workers have accomplished and that their effort whether they win or lose will serve as inspiration for future organizing within the hospitality/service industry.


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