Employees at a sixth Chicago-area Starbucks store have joined a union organizing campaign that supporters said has spread to more than 180 of its coffee shops throughout the United States. Meanwhile, union representation votes have been scheduled for two Starbucks outlets in the Chicago suburbs.
Workers at a Starbucks at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a union certification election. Grace Easterby, an organizer with Workers United, part of the Service Employees International Union, said the vote will cover 14 employees.
The NLRB has scheduled elections via mailed ballots for stores at 620 Northwest Highway, Cary, and 38 S. LaGrange Road, LaGrange. The agency’s records show the Cary ballots will be counted April 26 and the LaGrange ballots May 6.
The outcome will decide if the stores become the first Starbucks in the region to be unionized. Staff at three stores in Chicago also have requested a vote, but no dates have been set.
The organizing has gained momentum while still covering a tiny share of Starbucks’ roughly 9,000 sites in the United States. The Workers United effort marks a rare incursion by unions into chain-store food and beverages and could become a template for other restaurant campaigns.
Starbucks workers have cited better pay and benefits and more say in scheduling as among their priorities. The company has stated it supports the right to organize but regards employees as “partners” who don’t need a union.
Easterby said the union has won 10 of 11 elections that have occurred at Starbucks, all at stores outside of Illinois.
In several cases, Starbucks has requested that union elections occur not store by store, but within all stores in a corporate district, including places where employees have voiced no interest in unionizing. The NLRB has rejected that request.
The Chicago stores where workers are waiting for election dates are at 155 N. Wabash Ave., 2543 N. California Ave. and 1174 E. 55th St.