Workers at Intelligentsia Coffee have officially filed to unionize. The petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board and if successful would mark the first of specialty coffee’s Big Three (along with North Carolina’s Counter Culture and Portland’s Stumptown Coffee) to form a worker’s union.
The announcement came via statement on Friday, May 27th from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1220, the Chicago-based branch of the IBEW that also represents Colectivo Coffee, who unionized last year. The vote will affect all Chicago-based workers at Intelligentsia, including their five retail locations as well as their roasting warehouse. The vote will not affect any workers at Intelligentsia’s Los Angeles, New York, Boston, or Austin locations.
In the press release, IBEW Local 1220 Business Manger John Rizzo had this to say:
Today, we are pleased to announce that workers at Intelligentsia Coffee have filed with the NLRB to unionize.
Intelligentsia Coffee workers have worked diligently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they will have the opportunity to organize and join a Union through a fair and protected election.
We are very proud of the workers at Intelligentsia Coffee! They have taken a bold and necessary step toward ensuring that every employee has fair treatment and dignity in their work. Further, they have indicated the necessity for both safety in the workplace and fair wages in order to make a modest living without having to work for multiple employers. They took the risks and are willing to fight for everything they deserve.
Intelligentsia Coffee workers will rise to this occasion with their voices and votes. Others in the hospitality and service industry will look to Intelligentsia workers for the road map on how to organize a Union at their workplace.
This latest vote is part of a sweeping nationwide unionizing effort in the coffee industry. To date, over 300 Starbucks locations in the United States have attempted to unionize, and specialty coffee companies like the aforementioned Colectivo, Gimme!, Pavement, and Spyhouse have all made collective bargaining efforts to various levels of success. But if successful, Intelligentsia, one of the biggest names in specialty coffee—and in their home city of Chicago no less—would be one of the most significant union efforts in the world of coffee.
But first, workers must vote in favor.
This story is developing…