After a dramatic year-long battle between activists and management, Colectivo Coffee, a Wisconsin-based coffee business with five Chicago-area stores, is set to become the largest unionised staff at a U.S. coffee chain.
With seven contested ballots remained after an April election, preliminary results revealed a tie. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) chose to count these ballots earlier in August, despite firm ownership protests, and announced on Monday that pro-union employees could join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) with a vote of 106 to 99. According to a union representative, some 400 workers will be represented. Prior to the election results, the largest cafe union in the United States was SPoT Coffee, which had roughly 130 members in Buffalo, New York.
The company’s leadership has expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome, asserting in an open letter that the majority of its employees oppose unionisation, but that they plan to continue on and “bargain in good faith.”
Colectivo employees teamed up with the IBEW because of the organization’s resources, which most hospitality workers lack, and which is one of the numerous reasons why unions haven’t taken off in the restaurant business. On Monday, volunteer organisers reacted on social media, declaring that “history has been created.”