Home Local Baristas at two Chicago Starbucks become the city’s first to unionize

Baristas at two Chicago Starbucks become the city’s first to unionize

by staff

Workers at two Chicago Starbucks voted nearly unanimously to unionize Wednesday, becoming the first unionized Starbucks workers in the city.

Baristas at the Starbucks at 5964 N. Ridge Ave. voted 20-3 to join the union and baristas at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. voted to do so 10-1, according to organizers with the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United, the Service Employees International Union affiliate that represents the Starbucks workers. The Starbucks workers voted in person over two days at The Edge Theater. The stores are located in the Edgewater and Edgewater Beach neighborhoods, respectively.


Teddy Hoffman, a barista at the Ridge and Clark Starbucks, called the union vote “exhilarating.” Hoffman has worked at Starbucks for more than six years.

“I think the biggest part is just finally feeling like we have a voice, and that our work has amounted to something,” he said.


“I think it means that we matter, that we’re heard, and that we will be heard and that our resilience has paid off,” he said. Sticking points for his co-workers have included wage increases and guaranteed hours so they can maintain access to Starbucks’ benefits, he said.

Nationally, the Starbucks Workers United campaign continues to grow. As of this week, baristas at more than 260 stores have filed for union elections, according to the National Labor Relations Board. As of Tuesday, Starbucks workers had voted to unionize at 85 out of 102 stores where elections had been held. A handful of results remained under contestation.

In late April, Starbucks employees at two stores in Cary and Peoria became the first in Illinois to unionize. Earlier this month, baristas in La Grange voted against joining the union in a 9-6 vote. The vote came a few days after interim Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced new pay raises and benefits he said would not apply to employees at stores that have unionized or sought to do so.

Workers at Hoffman’s store filed for union representation in March; employees at the Edgewater Beach store filed in April.

In a statement, Workers United International Vice President Kathy Hanshew said the union was “extremely proud” to welcome the Chicago Starbucks workers into the union.

“Starbucks bosses are no match for this new generation of union activists, and no match for a united labor movement that is steadfast in its commitment to stand with them,” Hanshew said.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Vote counts for four other Chicago Starbucks are coming up in June. Those stores are located in the Loop, Hyde Park, Logan Square and Bucktown.

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