Hourly workers at the Starbucks cafe on Logan Boulevard and California Avenue in Logan Square filed for union certification on Friday, becoming the second Starbucks location to do so in Chicago and joining a national labor organizing movement at the country’s largest coffee chain that began last month in Buffalo, New York.
Fourteen of the 24 hourly workers signed a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, which they posted on Twitter, calling for better wages and benefits, more sensible scheduling, and improved security, plus a request not to move up the store’s scheduled remodel, which is set for March and would require it to close temporarily. The workers filed for recognition with Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union, which has been representing the workers in Buffalo.
The movement continues to grow as partners in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood join the effort to gain a democratic say in their workplace – please join us and stop by to show support for these workers! #1u pic.twitter.com/hGzCvdWF3d
— SBWorkersUnited (@SBWorkersUnited) January 8, 2022
“Our goal at the end of the day is to bring things up to a level of where they should be,” says Collie Erdosy, a barista. Erdosy, who has worked for seven years in coffee shops around Chicago, including Colectivo Coffee at the beginning of its own union drive, says they were attracted to Starbucks by its employee benefits, which include health insurance and paid time off. Starbucks benefits, however, are contingent on hours worked, and even though Erdosy says they were hired a year ago at full-time, 40 hours, they usually were never scheduled for more than 25 hours a week, not enough for benefits to kick in. Erdosy says about half the workers at the store have the same issue.
COVID-19 has added an extra complication to scheduling, especially with the omicron surge: some weeks, so few workers are available, the store is understaffed, which means those who are there are overworked.
There is no permanent security at the Logan Square Starbucks, which poses a problem for baristas. “Quite a few violent people who have come in there have gotten pretty nasty with us,” Erdosy says. “We file an incident report [with Starbucks], and from there, hope for the best. Which is not always how it goes. It usually seemingly goes unnoticed or unresolved.”
The Logan Square Starbucks staff’s petition will be reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will then set a date for the union election. Starbucks so far hasn’t tried to interfere, workers say, aside from a few letters to employees claiming that a union would come between workers, known as “partners,” and management.
But workers don’t feel their goals are incompatible. “The Starbucks mission is very clear about what they want to do, changing the world one cup, one neighborhood, one person at a time,” says Erdosy. “It’s straightforward. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Ace Hotel’s impending closure means the loss of a haven for Black Millennials
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The Circle never forgets
Americans last week marked the one-year anniversary of rioters breaching the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt Joe Biden’s certification as president. The Wieners Circle, Chicago’s notorious late-night hot dog stand, didn’t let the occasion pass without mentioning Tank Noodle, the local Vietnamese restaurant that last year received enormous criticism for its owners’ participation in the rally that preceded the violence in D.C. “This weather has us craving pho, but since those motherfuckers at Tank Noodle went to the insurrection, fuck that place,” the stand tweeted Thursday. “Where else in Chi has good pho?”
This weather has us craving pho, but since those motherfuckers at tank noodle went to the insurrection, fuck that place. Where else in chi has good pho?
— The Wieners Circle (@TheWienerCircle) January 6, 2022