By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 23, 2021 at 5:01 PM Photography: Molly Snyder

Colectivo Coffee employees voted 106 to 99 to unionize, according to a statement issued Monday by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 494 Business Manager Dean A. Warsh.

Employees voted in a spring election, but a number of challenges to ballots required certification of the results by the National Labor Relations Board.

Acccording to More Perfect Union, a labor-focused media outlet, the union will represent more than 300 baristas, bakery and other workers, making it the largest union of cafe workers in the United States.

“Colectivo Coffee workers have worked diligently for the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Warsh in a statement. “Now that the ballots have been counted, and once certified, IBEW Local 494 will begin moving forward with bargaining surveys and plans to assist them with their first negotiated contract."

“We are calling on Colectivo ownership to bargain in good faith with their employees once the election has been certified.”

Colectivo’s owners posted an open letter to the company website in the wake of the announcement.

"We are disappointed by this result because a majority of our coworkers did not vote in favor of unionization and because the NLRB counted votes of several individuals who announced their resignations prior to the close of the election," the statement reads. "At final count, less than one third of the eligible co-workers supported the union, and as of today, it is our best estimate that fewer than 100 of our current 440 co-workers voted for this union." 

"We will, of course, respect the rules and bargain in good faith. We will not allow this to change the remarkable Colectivo experience for our customers.  We will remain intensely focused on our customers and the generous and responsible approach we’ve always taken as employers will remain unchanged.  We’re committed to continuing to pay our workers at the top of the market and to actively supporting and engaging in our community."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.