Employees at the Willis Tower Starbucks said Wednesday they’re seeking union representation, something an “overwhelming majority of workers support.”
“We are forced to work in assembly line-like production serving coffee and food at a fast pace despite whatever is happening in the building such as broken heat or AC, fights, pest infestation, a drug overdose death, and more with little regard for our physical or mental wellbeing,” barista Melany Alicea said in a press release.
That release described the Willis Tower location as one the busiest in the U.S.
The unionization announcement comes one day after Lakeview Starbucks employees voted 11-to-1 in favor of representation, according to voting results shared by organizers. On Monday, Glenview Starbucks workers announced they plan to organize as well.
Yesterday’s vote by the Irving Park Road and Ashland Avenue coffee shop brings the total of unionized Starbucks locations in the Chicago area to eight. There are also three in Edgewater, and one each in Bucktown, Hyde Park, North Park and northwest suburban Cary.
But one of the Edgewater locations, located at Bryn Mawr and Winthrop avenues, is set to close down later this month. Organizers argue it’s one of many “union-busting” tactics the massive coffee company has employed in Chicago and around the U.S., which union backers say also include surveilling, disciplining and terminating employees.
Starbucks spokespeople have consistently denied union-busting charges.
In a statement on the Edgewater location’s shutdown, a Starbucks spokesperson told WTTW News: “We continue to equip our partners with the training, policies and information they need to address the societal challenges that cross our store thresholds every day. But when these efforts aren’t enough to ensure our partners’ safety, we will make the decision to close a store, regardless of its revenue or union status.”
The Glenview and Willis Tower locations join another Starbucks in Elmhurst that’s currently awaiting a unionization vote.
Votes to unionize have failed at Starbucks locations in Logan Square, La Grange and downtown. According to the National Labor Relations Board, more than 300 Starbucks locations around the country have held elections for a union, with 80% voting in favor. All have organized with Workers United, an SEIU affiliate.