Colectivo Union Pushes ‘Reverse Boycott’
The union wants its supporters to patronize Colectivo in a special way this weekend.
The incipient union at Colectivo Coffee is trying a ‘more flies with honey’ approach to organizing this weekend.
It has called for a “reverse boycott” of Colectivo Coffee stores and products on “Small Business Saturday.” The goal is to telegraph to the owners that a union can be good for business.
Recently, Colectivo shut down two cafes, one in the Historic Third Ward, the other in Madison, citing diminished sales during the pandemic.
The reverse boycott asks people to patronize Colectivo Cafes, and to indicate their support for the unionization efforts by putting down “IBEWstrong” along with their name when they order coffee.
Hillary Laskonis, one of the Colectivo employees organizing the union, said they are emphasizing that they do not want the community to boycott Colectivo. “However, we know that some feel uncomfortable patronizing a company that they know has actively tried to deter their employees from organizing a union.”
Laskonis’ father is Charles Laskonis, the IBEW state organizing coordinator for Illinois.
The union is in the midst of a push for authorization cards. These cards are signed by employees to show they approve of the union acting as their bargaining representative.
Employers can voluntarily recognize a union if presented with authorization cards signed by a majority of their employees. Or, as Colectivo owners have indicated they will do, require the union to file for a National Labor Relations Board election.
In early October, approximately 30% of Colectivo employees had signed an authorization card, according to organizers. But organizers said they want a solid majority of cards signed before they call an election. “We’re definitely closer now,” Hillary Laskonis told Urban Milwaukee this week.
Given the pandemic, this push for authorization cards is largely playing out digitally. Union organizers have been releasing polished videos and GIFs on their social media channels encouraging their co-workers to turn in authorization cards.
“However, management at Colectivo still does not seem to understand where we’re coming from,” Laskonis said.
Colectivo owners have been clear that they oppose unionization. They have sent letters to employees expressing their opposition, and have hired consultants specializing in “union avoidance” to meet with employees.
Colectivo told Urban Milwaukee the union avoidance consultants were labor law experts. In an interview with Restaurant Business, a foodservice industry trade magazine, Scott Schwebel, vice president of brand, marketing and retail for Collective, said the consultants were hired to counter “the false-misleading promises the unions are allowed to peddle to gain support in this process.”
Schwebel also said “unions can be great, but usually for long-term positions (like the trades).” He went on to add “They do not, however, have any skills or merit offerings in a service & hospitality industry like our coffee business, and transient employment cafe jobs get little or nothing in return.”
- Colectivo Union Election Is a Tie Vote - Graham Kilmer - Apr 6th, 2021
- Colectivo Union Election Finishes - Graham Kilmer - Mar 31st, 2021
- IBEW Local 494 Statement on Colectivo’s Union-Busting Meetings - International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 - Feb 17th, 2021
- Colectivo Workers Petition for Union Election - Graham Kilmer - Feb 16th, 2021
- Colectivo Closes Prospect Avenue Cafe - Graham Kilmer - Jan 18th, 2021
- Murphy’s Law: Local Unions Confront The Wealthy - Bruce Murphy - Nov 30th, 2020
- Colectivo Union Pushes ‘Reverse Boycott’ - Graham Kilmer - Nov 25th, 2020
- Did Colectivo Hire Union Busters? - Graham Kilmer - Oct 8th, 2020
- Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement on workers organizing at Colectivo: - Mayor Tom Barrett - Oct 2nd, 2020
- County Supervisors Express Support for Colectivo Workers Union - Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors - Sep 25th, 2020
Read more about Union Effort at Colectivo here