In August, workers at the five Chicagoland Intelligentsia cafes successfully voted resoundingly in favor of joining The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1220. Now, just four months later, their first union contract has been ratified.
As reported by the Chicago Sun Times, the contract ratification marks a first for the city that seen multiple union efforts at specialty cafes, including Colectivo and most recently La Colombe. Announced of Friday by IBEW 1220, a tentative deal between the union and Intelligentsia was reached on December 1st and has since successfully been ratified by the 31 union members. The agreement will take effect starting January 1st, 2023.
Covering a two-year period, the new contract includes “wage increases and job protections” for union members. Specifically, “baristas and shift leads will get pay increases of about 14% over the term of the contract,” per the Sun Times article. Other significant improvements, per the story, see worker “for the first-time be paid for mandated 30-minute meal breaks and will earn double time for holidays, compared with the prior time-and-a-half. He said baristas’ starting pay will be almost $18 an hour, with shift leads at about $19.”
IBEW Local 1220 Business Manager John Rizzo had this to say in the statement:
Today is a ground-breaking day for both the IBEW and the workers at Intelligentsia Coffee. Through the employees’ hard work and determination to unite as a group, this agreement was achievable.
This new contract is a wonderful first step for the unit. The agreement we were able to obtain through bargaining give the workers the protections and benefits they were seeking when they first organized earlier this year. This deal will serve them very well for the next couple of years.
Our Union is stronger today with the addition of these skilled workers.
IBEW 1220’s Bret Lyons tells the Sun Times that the four-month negotiations went more smoothly than most contract negotiations, particularly first-time ones. “They really took our issues to heart and they are a company that cares about their employees,” Lyons states. The speed of the ratification is most notable when compared to other coffee unions, like that of Colectivo’s and the nationwide efforts of Starbucks Workers United; though both unions have existed longer than Intelligentsia’s, they have experienced significantly more pushback from the employers, and not a single contract has yet to be ratified.