(grafvision/Getty Images) In Milwaukee, baristas turned to the electricians’ union for help in forming their own, and the owners are steamed.
What do Milwaukee’s overeducated hipster baristas and blue-collar commercial electricians have in common? Partnership with the IBEW Local Union 494, as of this week.
Employees of Colectivo, a local roastery and chain of cafes, voted 106–99 to organize, citing working conditions and irregular hours. Company owners opposed the formation of the union and questioned the counting of votes. Nonetheless, the National Labor Relations Board will certify the election next week, making the Colectivo organization effort the largest café workers’ union in the nation.
The voting controversy has to do with seven dubious votes in favor. After initial voting, the effort stalled at a 99–99 deadlock. Then, seven additional votes for unionization were accepted, though they were cast by employees who had put in a notice of resignation and would no longer be part of the company. The NLRB approved the seven votes over the cries of “foul” from ownership, and the barista unionization moved forward.
While the unionization effort was successful, it should be noted that Colectivo employs nearly 500 people, meaning a majority of employees did not vote for or against the proposal. Whether they voted or not, these employees will be dealing with the economic millstone of unionization around the neck of the company for which they work.
When contacted for comment by National Review, Colectivo’s owners opted not to respond. Instead, Mueller Communications, a local PR firm, replied with a link to a previous statement, some of which reads:
We are disappointed by this result because a majority of our coworkers did not vote in favor of unionization and because the NLRB counted votes of several individuals who announced their resignations prior to the close of the election. We don’t think those former coworkers should have been allowed to have a voice in unionization at an organization where they did not intend to work. The outcome is the result of a process that took place last spring and our employee census is
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