Unanimous support for union at Glenview Starbucks

Melissa Lee-Litowitz had expected this outcome, but not this decisively.

Employees at the Starbucks coffee shop at 2760 Willow Road in Glenview on Dec. 6 voted 18-0 in favor of forming a union.

"It was honestly my pipe dream of a best-case scenario, so our entire organizing committee is incredibly proud and excited, beyond words," said Lee-Litowitz, who heads the organizing committee for Starbucks Store No. 247 with fellow shift supervisor Tianna Lavalle.

Full- and part-time baristas, and shift supervisors were allowed to vote, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The Willow and Pfingsten Starbucks has 22 eligible employees, but not all were present to vote in either the morning or afternoon voting slots on Dec. 6.

"It was very exciting and sort of empowering to find out," said Lavalle, one of seven employees on the organizing committee who was there in person for the announcement of the vote.

It's been a busy year for employees seeking to organize as entities of Starbucks Workers United within the Service Employees International Union.

Since a store in Buffalo, New York, voted to form a union on Dec. 9, 2021, the national board said it's conducted 336 Starbucks ballot counts. Twenty Illinois locations have filed petitions for a union election, the board said. There are roughly 9,000 Starbucks locations in the United States.

Of those 336 who have taken a vote, 269 have voted for unionizing, 61 have voted against, and six are under challenge. The national board said 253 have been certified with the union, and Starbucks must begin to bargain in good faith with the union.

So far, Lavalle said, that's proven to be a challenge. In the first two days after the vote there had been no response from corporate management, she said.

"I hope that we are able to, first of all, successfully have some sort of bargaining negotiations. I know in the past Starbucks has walked out on bargaining or not even shown up," Lavalle said.

A Starbucks spokesperson said "we are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country.

"From the beginning, we've been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We remain committed to our partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone," the spokesperson said.

After a Nov. 18 "Sip-In" at the Glenview Starbucks to provide information and drum up support for organizing, Lee-Litowitz said employees liked their jobs but sought to improve working conditions that ultimately would benefit their customers.

Lavalle, a Starbucks partner for two years who has been at the 2760 Willow Road store for about a year, said the store has only one person training baristas, and it's not enough.

"She could not possibly train every single hire that we get," Lavalle said.

She said the organizing committee met Dec. 10 to discuss next steps. These will include communication with other Starbucks Workers United unions to consider economic and noneconomic proposals and figure out when to meet with corporate attorneys to discuss terms of bargaining.

"We know it will be a journey but we're excited for it, we're fired up," said Lee-Litowitz, a six-year employee, more than two years at Willow and Pfingsten, who admitted to being fearful for her job.

"We know it'll be work, but we're fired up about that work," she said.

  Melissa Lee-Litowitz wears pro-union buttons at the Glenview Starbucks located at the intersection of Willow and Pfingsten roads, where employees are voting to form a union. Joe Lewnard/
  Employees at the Glenview Starbucks at the intersection of Willow and Pfingsten roads are voting to form a union. Joe Lewnard/
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