Colectivo Coffee baristas brew up a union contract

The coffee chain’s staffers, who organized with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 2021, secured a two-year deal.

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Colectivo Coffee in Andersonville at 5425 N. Clark St.

Colectivo Coffee in Andersonville at 5425 N. Clark St.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Employees at Colectivo Coffee ratified their first labor agreement since organizing in 2021 with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Union leadership said Wednesday that the employees ratified a two-year contract covering about 90 employees in the Chicago area and nearly 500 in Wisconsin, where Colectivo’s operations are based. IBEW Local 1220 represents Colectivo’s Chicago staff, while IBEW’s Local 494 handles the Wisconsin workers.

Brett Lyons, business representative for IBEW Local 1220, said the employees won pay raises, paid sick leave and improved scheduling rules.

Lyons said more than 300 workers voted on the contract and 95% ratified it.

Colectivo did not respond to a request for comment. The chain has five cafes in the Chicago area and 15 in Wisconsin, primarily in the Milwaukee and Madison areas.

It marks the second contract the IBEW has secured here for coffee shop workers. It’s a stark contrast to the nationwide organizing campaign at Starbucks, where an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union has struggled to make headway with bargaining.

Local 1220’s workers at the Intelligentsia coffee chain ratified an agreement in December, and in the spring, it organized employees at a Metropolis coffee shop in Edgewater.

Lyons said Colectivo workers in the Chicago area will get a 4% raise in the first year — bringing starting hourly wages to $16.17 plus tips for baristas up to $21.11 for trainers — and 2.7% the following year.

The contract also includes “just cause” language that spells out rules for discipline, an important goal for unions.

The agreement codifies existing company benefits such as health insurance and 401(k) contributions, Lyons said. Management committed to regular meetings on safety and other issues, he said.

“I’m thrilled to see the changes already taking place throughout my cafe and look forward to continued collaboration with my co-workers throughout the Colectivo Collective about the positive impact of this contract thus far and in the future,” Zacary Heren, Chicago-area worker and a member of the bargaining committee, said in a statement.

Besides baristas, the agreement also covers administrative workers and those at a bakery and warehouse in Wisconsin, Lyons said.

“It sets up the group in a good position for bargaining for the next contract,” he said.

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