Intelligentsia Chicago workers file case for union electionDaily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

The Intelligentsia cafe logo.

Employees at the Chicago sites of Intelligentsia Coffee took the first step towards unionization, adding to a wave of union efforts in the retail coffee industry.

In a press release shared with DCN by IBEW Local 1220the labor group said Intelligentsia’s bargaining unit would include employees from Intelligentsia’s five coffee shops in Chicago, as well as its West Loop roastery and warehouse.

“We are very proud of the workers at Intelligentsia Coffee,” Local 1220 Business Manager John Rizzo said in the press release. “They have taken a bold and necessary step to ensure that every employee receives fair treatment and dignity in their work. Additionally, they indicated the need for both workplace safety and fair wages to earn a modest living without having to work for multiple employers.


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Considered an influential force in the coffee industry’s “third wave” and direct business movements, Intelligentsia was founded in Chicago in 1995 before being acquired by JAB-owned Peet’s Coffee in 2015. , Intelligentsia is a subsidiary of JDE Peet’s.

In a statement to DCN, Intelligentsia said, “We have been advised by the NLRB that IBEW Local 1220 has filed a petition for election to represent certain Intelligentsia employees in Chicago for collective bargaining. As this is an active and ongoing matter, Intelligentsia will not comment.

The petition for the union election filed on May 23 with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRB) is only a first step towards unionization, although it required the signature of at least 30% of the workers in the potential bargaining unit. If the petition is approved, it will be followed by a vote among eligible workers.

If passed, IBEW Local 1220 would represent participating workers in negotiations for new union-approved contracts with Intelligentsia.

The organizing effort does not currently include other Intelligentsia businesses, including company-owned and operated stores in the Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Texas markets.

FIBE Local 1220 also represents Milwaukee’s Illinois-based contingent Collective Coffee employees who voted to unionize last year.


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