Graham Kilmer

NLRB Upholds Colectivo Union Election

Colectivo's second attempt to appeal the results of the 2021 election have failed.

By - Mar 25th, 2022 04:50 pm
Colectivo Coffee with walk-up windows in Riverwest. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Colectivo Coffee with walk-up windows in Riverwest. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The workers attempting to start a union at Colectivo Coffee scored a major victory this week.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld the results of a March 2021 union election that saw the workers vote in favor of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 (IBEW) representing them.

The initial result was a tie as Colectivo challenged a number of ballots it did not believe should be counted. A regional NLRB decision later allowed the ballots to be counted, tipping the election in favor of the union. But Colectivo appealed, only for the regional board to sustain its decision.

After exhausting the regional appeal process, management filed an appeal with the national NLRB. On Thursday, the NLRB decided not to review the case.

“This past January, the owners and management of Colectivo Coffee had filed for an additional review of the union election that NLRB representatives had already twice decided was just and sound,” said Dean Warsh, IBEW 494 business manager. “Now, the final decision has been made by the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is officially and without question, the union representative of the workers of Colectivo Coffee,”

The union has been asking the owners of Colectivo, Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller, to begin contract negotiations and has called the appeals to the NLRB an attempt to stall these proceedings. In his statement, Warsh re-upped his call for Colectivo owners to begin negotiating a labor contract with the union. “They have been more than patient and deserve nothing less,” said Warsh of the workers.

In a statement, Colectivo owners said, “We have decided not to continue our legal appeal and will commence to prepare to bargain in good faith with the union. We have been, and always will be, committed to the success of our co-workers and bringing an exceptional experience to our customers.”

Throughout the organizing push, and following the election, organizers and the IBEW have held “reverse boycotts” wherein they asked customers to go to a Colectivo cafe and order their coffee with the message “IBEW Strong” to show their support for the union.

Colectivo management has maintained clear opposition to the union. Soon after employees went public with their campaign, Colectivo owners sent a letter to their staff expressing opposition to a union. A few months later, they hired “union avoidance” consultants to hold meetings with employees and dissuade them from unionization.

The next step for the union is to negotiate a labor contract. If ownership’s approach to union organization is any indication of their approach to negotiation, contract negotiations could drag on for a while.

2 thoughts on “NLRB Upholds Colectivo Union Election”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Good for the workers. The owners are greedy, like most companies.

  2. Johnstanbul says:

    Wow the owners really want people to stop patronizing their business. Such a bizarre line of thinking.

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