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Intelligentsia Coffee Chicago Baristas Vote to Unionize

Intelligentsia Coffee

The Intelligentsia Coffee logo.

Workers at five Intelligentsia Coffee retail locations in Chicago have voted to unionize. Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) filed a petition for a union on behalf of a group of Intelligentsia workers back in May, and 90 percent of votes came back in favor in a final tally today.

The Intelligentsia unionization effort follows additional high-profile pro-unionization votes in the specialty coffee industry, including a wave of single-store Starbucks union efforts.

In June, 17 workers at Peace Coffee in Minneapolis were part of a majority “yes” vote, while 106 workers were ultimately part of a “yes” vote for unionization at Wisconsin-based Colectivo coffee.

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The initial Intelligentsia union petition included workers at the coffee company’s Chicago production roastery and warehouses, although final vote only included baristas and shift leads at the five Chicago retail cafes, and not managers.

The company’s Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Austin, Texas, locations are not part of the current bargaining unit, which currently represents about 28 workers, according to an IBEW Local 1220 spokesperson.

A pioneer in what would become specialty coffee’s “Third Wave” movement, Intelligentsia Coffee was founded in 1995. The company was acquired by Peet’s Coffee in 2015.

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