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Peoria Campustown Starbucks will vote to unionize next month

From left to right, Jen Lenz, Violet Vaden, Jon Gill and Sarah Rodden, stand outside the Campustown Starbucks at 1200 W. Main St. in Peoria.

Workers at the Starbucks Campustown location in Peoria are one step closer to having a union.

Ballots for union election voting will be mailed to all employees on April 5, and counted on April 26.

Workers say the process is moving faster than expected.

Last week, attorneys for Starbucks conceded the company’s right to a pre-election hearing through the National Labor Relations Board, said union organizer Jen Lenz.

But local organizers learned of the company’s decision to cancel the hearing just minutes before it was set to begin.

Lenz said workers spent about a month preparing for the court hearing, gathering evidence in anticipation of a four-day process. Lenz and another worker were subpoenaed, she added.

It’s unclear why Starbucks’ attorneys canceled the labor relations hearing, but Lenz said she’s glad they did.

“This is great news for us,” Lenz said. “This is great news for the movement as a whole. This means we get to have our election even sooner than we planned.”

Starbucks has not yet returned WCBU’s request for comment.

Lenz and her co-workers began the unionization process on Feb. 11, following a wave of similar efforts nationwide.

Since then, Lenz said the company has made no effort to rectify workers’ specific demands at the Campustown location — chief among them, concerns related to safety.

Lenz said the company is cutting hours for employees nationwide. In Peoria, Lenz said that means higher turnover and a decrease in the number of staffers who meet the minimum hour requirement to access health benefits.

Lenz said she’s grateful for the community support. Peorians are coming into the coffee shop asking for their coffee, “Union yes.”

“It’s a nod to us baristas that we feel seen and heard, and that we know that you guys are on our side as a community,” she said. “So, as I like to say, ‘Unions play in Peoria.'”

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Tristen Kissack

Tristen Kissack

Tristen Kissack is a digital production intern for Illinois Newsroom. He’s a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in journalism. He serves as producer/director for the university’s student-run television broadcast Illini Sports Night and site manager for The Champaign Room, an Illinois Athletics blog.

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