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Colectivo continues legal battle against employee's union vote


Earlier this year, workers at Colectivo voted to join a union, but the fight isn't over yet. Colectivo has continued its legal fight against these efforts, questioning the vote's validity. So far, the process has taken nearly two years. Although Colectivo says it will bargain in good faith with the IBEW union once it is certified, it's unclear how long Colectivo plans to fight against the union's certification.

"Where we thought it was going to end was after the seven ballots that Colectivo challenged were ultimately deemed to be open, and all of them voted yes. We thought that was going to be the end-all," says John Jacobs, the assistant manager with IBEW Local 494.

Colectivo recently appealed the election results to the National Labor Relations Board, which Jacobs sees as a deliberate attempt to stall the process and quash employee's efforts to join a union. While Colectivo hasn't signed a contract with the IBEW union, they've signed a contract with the Labor Relation Institute, an organization known for union-busting which held anti-union meetings that employees were required to attend.

Ida Lucchesi, a cafe shift leader for Colectivo, says that while these tactics have been tiring this limbo has also presented some opportunities.

"I am tired, but it's also an opportunity they've created to do more community building on our part. I have more time to go out and make solid connections with employees that I hadn't been able to do before. So, there are some bright sides to it, but I think it is a deliberate delay tactic, yes," says Lucchesi.

Now, employees are trying to take advantage of this period of limbo, by reaching out to community members and rallying other co-workers is a job on top of a job.

"Collectively, we put together steward training, which individuals have gone through. We are currently in negotiation training...how to sit down and negotiate a contract. We're actually right in the middle of that training," says Jacobs.

According to Jacobs, the IBEW has started internally organizing and bringing new hires to speed. Many, he says, are intrigued by the idea of the company joining a union.

After Lucchesi and Jacob's last interview with WUWM, Jacobs says Colectivo CEOs' interest in joining IBEW piqued. He argues that joining the union is a win-win for both employees and the company. If the company and union contract was finalized, Colectivo could have profitable access to the union's 650,000 members.

"You cannot be idle in these times, you have to stay active, as if you have won this, and we're pretty confident that we will," says Jacobs.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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