Baristas at 2 Starbucks become the first to join unions in Chicago
Workers at two Starbucks in Chicago voted overwhelmingly to form unions on Wednesday, becoming the city’s first unionized Starbucks workers.
Baristas voted at Starbucks at 5964 N. Ridge Ave. 20-3 voted to join the union and the Baristas at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. They voted to do so 10-1, according to organizers with the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United, the international federation of service employees that represents Starbucks workers. Starbucks workers voted in person over two days at Edge Theatre. The stores are located in the Edgewater and Edgewater Beach neighborhoods, respectively.
Teddy Hoffman, a barista at Ridge and Clark Starbucks, described the unions’ vote as “exhilarating.” Hoffman has worked at Starbucks for more than six years.
“I think the biggest part was the feeling that we finally had a voice, that our work was like something,” he said.
“I think that means that we matter, that we are heard, that we will be heard and that our resilience has paid off,” he said. He said the sticking points for his co-workers included increasing wages and guaranteed working hours so they could maintain access to Starbucks benefits.
Nationally, the Starbucks workers’ union campaign continues to grow. As of this week, baristas in more than 260 stores have filed for union elections, according to the National Labor Relations Board. As of Tuesday, Starbucks workers have voted to join a union in 85 of the 102 stores where the election was held. A handful of findings remain under challenge.
In late April, Starbucks employees at two stores in Cary and Peoria became the first to join a union in Illinois. Earlier this month, Barista Lagrange voted against joining the union by 9-6 votes. The vote came just days after Starbucks’ interim CEO Howard Schultz announced new salary increases and benefits that he said would not apply to employees at stores that have joined unions or sought to do so.
Workers at the Hoffman Store applied to represent the union in March; Edgewater Beach store employees presented in April.
ILO Vice President Cathy Hanshaw said in a statement that the union was “extremely proud” to welcome Chicago Starbucks workers to the union.
“Starbucks bosses are no match for this new generation of union activists, nor is a united labor movement steadfast in its commitment to standing by them,” Hanshaw said.
Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
Vote numbers for four more Chicago Starbucks will be released in June. These stores are located in Loop, Hyde Park, Logan Square, and Bucktown.