Union vote scheduled for 3 Starbucks stores in Chicago

Workers at the locations have sought rights to bargain as members of Workers United, part of the Service Employees International Union.

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The Starbucks store at 155 N. Wabash Ave., where workers have petitioned for union certification. A federal agency is scheduled to count employees’ votes on whether to unionize.

The Starbucks store at 155 N. Wabash Ave., where workers have petitioned for union certification. A federal agency is scheduled to count employees’ votes on whether to unionize.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A federal agency has scheduled union certification elections for three Starbucks stores in Chicago where workers have filed petitions to organize.

The National Labor Relations Board has set rules for votes by mailed ballots among employees at the Starbucks at 155 N. Wabash Ave., 2543 N. California Ave. and 1174 E. 55th St. The NLRB said it will count the ballots at its Chicago office June 7.

The agency said approximately 56 employees at the three stores will be eligible to vote. The elections will be separate, with workers deciding the union issue at each store independently. The baristas have filed petitions seeking to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Paul Hitterman, acting regional director for the NLRB in Chicago, set the election after rejecting a Starbucks petition to conduct the balloting not among workers at individual stores, but at all stores within a corporate district. The request would have resulted in elections involving stores whose employees expressed no interest in organizing, increasing the chances of a vote against the union. The NLRB posted Hitterman’s decision Friday.

Starbucks has pushed for district-wide elections at stores in many states where organizing has occurred. The NLRB has repeatedly rejected that request.

Previously, the NLRB scheduled elections via mailed ballots for two suburban Chicago stores. The agency’s records show ballots from a store at 620 Northwest Highway, Cary, will be counted Tuesday, while those from a store at 38 S. LaGrange Road, LaGrange, will be counted May 6. They will be the first in the Chicago area to have elections.

Organizing campaigns have spread to more than 180 stores among the 9,000 Starbucks has in the U.S. The pro-labor group More Perfect Union said workers at 27 stores nationally voted with the union, while those at 2 stores have voted down the union.

Starbucks has said it supports its workers’ right to organize, but doesn’t believe its workers need the representation.

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