MILWAUKEE — After a yearslong battle, employees of Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee have voted to unionize with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certified IBEW as the bargaining representative of Colectivo workers. This comes after the NLRB counted several challenged ballots in the vote for or against unionization at the coffee chain. The final count was 106 to 99.
Colectivo workers in Milwaukee and Madison will be represented by IBEW Local 494, while Colectivo workers in Chicago will be represented by IBEW Local 1220.
"We are very proud of the workers at Colectivo Coffee! They have taken a bold and necessary step toward ensuring that every employee has fair treatment and dignity in their work. Further, they have strengthened the bonds and created new friendships with workers at Colectivo worksites across state lines - developing a shared understanding and commitment to each other’s well-being. They put their hearts and soul into this organizing effort and left nothing on the field!” said Local 494 Business Manager Dean A. Warsh in a statement.
Colectivo owners argued in a statement that the challenged ballots were cast by former employees, and that only a minority of workers voted in favor - calling their employee census "dynamic."
"We are disappointed by this result because a majority of our coworkers did not vote in favor of unionization and because the NLRB counted votes of several individuals who announced their resignations prior to the close of the election. We don’t think those former coworkers should have been allowed to have a voice in unionization at an organization where they did not intend to work," according to Colectivo.
The company said less than one third of eligible co-workers supported the union and that fewer than 100 of their current 440 co-workers voted for unionization. "We will, of course, respect the rules and bargain in good faith," the company wrote.
Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin branch of AFL-CIO, said Colectivo workers first started the bid to unionize years ago.
“You will now be able to get your cup of coffee — union strong — at all Colectivos, knowing the working people behind your order have real power in their workplace with the IBEW,” said Bloomingdale.