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Eater Chicago

IBEW Prevails in Colectivo Union Vote

Seven ballots decided the election at the Midwest coffee maker

Kris LaGrange's picture
Aug 24, 2021

After facing an intense anti-union campaign, workers at Colectivo Coffee voted in March about whether they should join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). When the ballots were counted, the vote came out tied at 99 to 99 with seven ballots being contested by the company.

Now five months later, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered the votes to be opened and counted. On Monday, the count happened, and the board announced that the union came out ahead.

The workers took to Facebook to celebrate saying “With today’s results, Colectivo becomes the largest Unionized Café in the country, a record we hope to hold onto for only a short period of time!” Colectivo is one of the largest coffee companies in the Midwest and is now the largest organized coffee company in the country.

“Today, we are pleased to announce that workers at Colectivo Coffee have voted to unionize, giving them a powerful voice in their workplace. The vote passed by 106 to 99,” said IBEW 494 Business Manager Dean A. Warsh. “Colectivo Coffee workers have worked diligently for the opportunity to have their voices heard. Now that the ballots have been counted, and once certified, IBEW Local 494 will begin moving forward with bargaining surveys and plans to assist them with their first negotiated contract.”

As UCOMM Blog previously reported, the workers at Colectivo met with a few unions last year to decide who to organize with before choosing Local 494 to represent them. The new bargaining unit will include workers at cafes in Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin, Chicago Illinois, and at the roastery in Riverwest, which is located in Milwaukee. It will represent about 400 workers, which means that the union has a lot of work to do to shore up support since only 106 voted for the union. Since management spent lots of money to try and stop the union effort, it would also seem likely that the company will try and drag their feet on a first contract with the hopes of supporting a decertification campaign, a practice that would be made illegal under the PRO Act.

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