The 2 Starbucks bartenders became the first to unite in Chicago

Workers at two Chicago Starbucks voted overwhelmingly in favor of unionization Wednesday, becoming the first Starbucks workers in the city.

Starbucks bartenders at 5964 N. Ridge Ave. voted 20-3 to join the club and the baristas at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. voted 10-1, according to organizers with the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United, a subsidiary of the International Union of Employees representing Starbucks employees. Starbucks employees voted in person for two days at The Edge Theater. The stores are located in the Edgewater and Edgewater Beach neighborhoods, respectively.

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

“I think the biggest part is to finally feel that we have a voice and that our work is the equivalent of something,” he said.

“I think it means that we matter, that they listen to us and that we will be heard and that our resilience has paid off,” he said. Sticking points for his colleagues include salary increases and guaranteed hours so they can access Starbucks bonuses, he said.

Nationwide, the Starbucks Workers United campaign continues to grow. As of this week, baristas in more than 260 stores have applied for union elections, according to the National Labor Council. As of Tuesday, Starbucks workers had voted in favor of the union in 85 of the 102 polling stations. A handful of results remained in question.

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

Employees at Hoffman’s store applied 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 Chicago Starbucks workers to the union.

“Starbucks bosses do not fit in with this new generation of union activists, nor with a united labor movement that is firm in its commitment to stand with them,” Hanseou said.

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

The vote count for four more Chicago Starbucks is coming in June. These stores are located in Loop, Hyde Park, Logan Square and Bucktown.

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