Five months after initial results showed a tie in Wisconsin-based Colectivo Coffee’s election on whether or not to unionize, the chain is closer to determining an official outcome. After a tumultuous battle with ownership, preliminary returns in April showed a tie with seven challenged ballots remaining. Despite management’s efforts to exclude these ballots, National Labor Relations Board has decided that those uncounted ballots will be opened and counted, according to union organizers.
The NLRB hasn’t yet settled on a date when that would happen. Should union organizers plans come to fruition, Colectivo would become the largest unionized workforce at a coffee chain in the U.S. Without the seven uncounted votes, the election was deadlocked at 99-99.
“After months of bated breath we received word of the decision made by the board in DC and they agree with us in opening the challenged ballots!!!,” organizers wrote Friday on Instagram. “That means seven more ballots will be fairly counted and we couldn’t be more happy! Literally jumping for joy over here.”
After workers began to organize, Colectivo management hired a union avoidance firm and employed common union busting tactics. They’ve still maintained in media interviews they are not anti-union. The company opened its first Chicago location in 2017 and now operates locations in Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Andersonville, and suburban Evanston. Originally founded in Milwaukee, the company has about 350 employees spread across more than a dozen locations in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Organizing efforts predate the pandemic, but the challenges of COVID-19 spurred workers to push for measures like increased safety protocols, formalized communication channels with management, and consistent scheduling. They sought out the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), as it could represent both warehouse employees and cafe workers. IBEW’s experience provided Colectivo the resources that restaurant workforces lack when it comes to organizing. The lack of infrastructure is a major reason while so few service industry workers belong to unions.
And in other news...
— Food delivery giant Uber Eats has dropped former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler from an ad campaign after he wrote about his opposition to mask mandates on social media, according to USA Today. A rep for Uber Eats told reporters the company has worked to promote vaccination and that the brand would “partner with those who support that work.” Cutler, a polarizing player and reality TV star, took his grievances to Twitter. Don’t worry, Uber Eats still has Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar.
Lost a commercial with Uber eats partnering with the NFL. Was going to film in LA, "views aren't aligned." Guess they don't like future School board members. Frees up my weekend.— Jay Cutler (@JayHasTweets) August 13, 2021
— Goose Island’s longtime punk and goth bar Exit will reopen after the city shut it down in early August for multiple building code violations at 1315 W. North Avenue, according to Block Club Chicago. “Exit is not shutting down they’re just remodeling at this time,” an official Facebook post reads. “Stay tuned for more details.” The rumor mill had been churning that two-level 4 a.m. bar was a pandemic goner.
— Back of the Yards Coffeehouse aims to use a $20,000 grant from delivery brand DoorDash to kickstart a business hub for Black, Brown, female, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs in the neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times. The proposal, which would seek funding though Chicago’s Invest South/West initiative, would include a coffee roasting facility, a bakery, and a workforce development center for youth.
— Is Chicago’s best taco pastor found at a Chinese spot? Tribune critic Nick Kindelsperger says yes in his Monday morning review of Asian Cuisine Express, 3823 W. 31st Street in Little Village. Around for years, the pan-Asian spot largely dwells on options like teriyaki and pad thai, but also sports a small taco selection including lengua, al pastor, and carne asada.
“Each single corn tortilla contained slender slices of pork heavily charred on one side, yet still juicy and succulent,” Kindelsperger writes. “ ...When right in that sweet spot of crispy and luscious, it’s easy to see why al pastor makes people like me lose our minds.”