Chicago Coffeehouse Workers Successfully Unionize

In May, the Intelligentsia workforce in Chicago submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to begin the process of organizing. Today, two months later, the votes were cast and workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of unionizing.

The announcement was made earlier today, Aug. 8, that workers at Intelligentsia’s five outlets in Chicago will be represented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1220, the same organization that Colectivo Coffee’s Chicagoland locations joined last year.

According to a statement from the IBEW, the ballots were mailed to the NLRB, which were then opened and counted this morning. The votes were 90% in favor of unionization. From Local 1220 Business Manager John Rizzo:

Local 1220 is more than happy to learn that the employees of Intelligentsia have chosen to join the ranks of the IBEW as union members. We congratulate the new members on their successful election and welcome them all as brothers and sisters of the union.

Organizing a workplace can be a difficult process, but when workers come together in the best interests of themselves and their peers, everyone wins in the end. A collective agreement is one of the most powerful tools available to workers. It gives employees the opportunity to make their voices heard at work. Intelligentsia employees will now have a seat at the table and have a say in their employment and working conditions.

The IBEW looks forward to meeting the company at the bargaining table in good faith to begin working on our first contract on behalf of workers.

A total of 30 Chicago Intelli employees will be represented by IBEW. The original petition also included workers at Intelligentsia’s Chicago roasting space, but according to the press release, the company “challenge these workers and their leadership roles within the company.” IBEW says it will seek to represent these workers in a future campaign.

Zac Cadwalader is Sprudge Media Network’s Managing Editor and a Dallas-based writer. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.


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