Graham Kilmer

Colectivo Union Election Is a Tie Vote

The vote is 99 to 99. But 16 ballots are challenged, will require an NLRB ruling on them.

By - Apr 6th, 2021 02:29 pm
Colectivo Coffee, 2211 N. Prospect Ave. Photo taken June 3rd, 2015 by Michael Horne.

Colectivo Coffee, 2211 N. Prospect Ave. Photo taken June 3rd, 2015 by Michael Horne.

The result of the union election at Colectivo Coffee is a tie: 99 to 99. But 16 ballots have been challenged and will await an National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing. 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 494 has backed the workers organizing a union at the Milwaukee coffee chain, and would represent them should they succeed. Workers at Colectivo have been organizing since August 2020.

In February, they petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for an election. That election was held in March and the results were supposed to be announced today. But, according to the statement from Dean Warsh, business manager and financial secretary for the local 494, some ballots were challenged and this will require an NLRB hearing to determine whether to include them in the results.

Both Colectivo and the IBEW are able to file objections during the election. It was not clear in the IBEW’s statement which party was challenging ballots.

Reached by Urban Milwaukee, Warsh initially declined to comment beyond the statement released by the union, saying “There are a lot of moving parts still and I don’t want to give out any false information.” Reached again later, Warsh confirmed a report on social media that the current tally is 99 for and 99 against.

He explained that there are 16 ballots that were challenged by Colectivo. At least two ballots were challenged for issues with signatures on the envelope, and the rest because the workers that voted are no longer employees of the company. The NLRB will next hold a hearing to determine whether these ballots should be counted.

If the employees that no longer work for Colectivo left voluntarily, their votes won’t count. But if they were fired, their ballots are valid and will be counted, Warsh said.

When employees mailed their ballots, they put them inside of two envelopes. The first envelope has a box where the envelope is sealed shut, and the voter is required to write their name across the seal so that if it is opened prior to being counted it will be evident. That envelope is then put in a second envelope that is addressed and stamped. Warsh said there were at least two envelopes challenged because of issues with the signature across the seal.

“Today’s result…doesn’t mark the end, it merely marks a new chapter in the workers’ desire for better rights and protections at their worksites,” Warsh said in the statement.

The IBEW is proud of the Colectivo workers, according to the statement, and these workers hope their effort “inspires others in the hospitality/service industry to Organize a Union at their workplace!”

Colectivo is the largest coffee chain in Milwaukee that has attempted to organize a union. It may also be the largest in the country. Colectivo has 18 cafes in three cities including Madison and Chicago.

It is, however, not the first coffee company whose workers tried to unionize. In 2019, employees of Stone Creek Coffee unsuccessfully attempted to organize a union with the backing of Teamsters Local 344. They lost their election 52 to 38, the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In 2020, a small group of employees at Wonderstate Coffee in the Historic Third Ward successfully voted to unionize with the same Teamsters local.

As of publication Urban Milwaukee had not heard from representatives of the Colectivo company. The story will be updated if and when we do.

One thought on “Colectivo Union Election Is a Tie Vote”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    I smell funny business by Collectivos owners.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us