Baristas at a 6th Starbucks sector cast a union vote

Employees at a sixth Chicago-area Starbucks store have joined a union organizing drive that supporters say has spread to more than 180 of its cafes across the United States. Meanwhile, union representation votes are scheduled for two Starbucks outlets in suburban Chicago.

Workers at a Starbucks at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a union certification election. Grace Easterby, organizer of Workers United, which is part of the Service Employees International Union, said the vote will cover 14 employees.

The NLRB has scheduled elections via mail-in ballots for stores located at 620 Northwest Highway, Cary and 38 S. LaGrange Road, LaGrange. Agency records show Cary ballots will be counted on April 26 and LaGrange ballots on May 6.

The outcome will decide whether the stores will become the first Starbucks in the area to be unionized. Staff at three Chicago stores have also called for a vote, but no date has been set.

The organization has grown while covering a tiny fraction of Starbucks’ approximately 9,000 locations in the United States. The Workers United effort marks a rare union foray into food and drink chains and could become a model for other restoration campaigns.

Starbucks workers cited better wages and benefits and greater influence over schedules among their priorities. The company said it supported the right to organize but saw employees as “partners” who did not need a union.

Easterby said the union has won 10 of 11 elections held at Starbucks, all in stores outside of Illinois.

In several instances, Starbucks has called for union elections to be held not on a store-by-store basis, but in all stores within a corporate district, including locations where employees have expressed no interest in unionizing. The NLRB denied this request.

Chicago stores where workers await election dates are at 155 N. Wabash Ave., 2543 N. California Ave. and 1174 E.55and St.