It's been almost five months since workers at Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee Roasters voted to unionize, but the process has been at a standstill thanks to repeated legal pushback by company ownership.Colectivo last week filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board for a review of a Dec. 17 decision that overruled the company's initial objections to the election results and certified the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 as the bargaining unit representative.NLRB must process the request (and any objection filed by either party) before it can officially certify the final 106-99 vote count, which was tallied in August. IBEW can't begin contract negotiations with Colectivo's ownership until the results are certified. If a contract is negotiated, Colectivo would be home to the largest cafe workers union in the country. In the eyes of IBEW, Colectivo's latest objection is seen as "another delay and obstructive tactic to slow down and stop the will of their workers to form a union," said Dean Warsh, business manager IBEW Local 494 in a statement."We at IBEW Local 494 continue to call on the ownership and management to stop stalling and join us and the workers at the bargaining table to negotiate a fair and equitable contract. May Colectivo Coffee Roasters word be as strong as their coffee," said Warsh.Colectivo did not respond to a request for comment. Initially, IBEW had expected NLRB's certification to come within days of the final vote count, but the timeline was extended when National Labor Relations Board regional director Jennifer Hadsall called a hearing on Sept. 29 to discuss evidence supporting Colectivo's objections, which claim mail-in ballots were mishandled by employee organizers and question the integrity of the election. Those objections were filed in April, a month after the election, which ended in a 99-99 tie, with another 16 ballots challenged over concerns with employees resigning or being terminated around the time of the election. The union's tally increased to 106 after Hadsall ruled that seven of the 16 challenged ballots should be counted. Colectivo tried to fight back, issuing a request for review of the decision to count ballots of employees who leave a company before votes are counted. NLRB denied the request, and the final vote count was tallied. Colectivo pursued its original objections. Following the September hearing, an NLRB hearing officer issued a report that recommended overturning Colectivo's objections entirely, saying the company failed to prove that its objections "reasonably tended to interfere with employee free choice," according to NLRB filings. Colectivo filed exceptions to the recommendations, but Hasdall ultimately decided to overrule the company's objections to the March election results. Her decision is now at the center of Colectivo's most recent challenge. "The regional director should have sustained Colectivo’s objections and ordered a re-run election. The regional director’s failure to comply with the board’s prohibition against ballot solicitation and the resulting lack of vigilance necessary to protect the integrity of the election process offer compelling reasons for the board to grant this request for review," according to the filing last week. “Twice now, it has been decided that the will of the workers was soundly expressed, and the objections have been overruled. We are so proud of the workers at Colectivo Coffee, who have taken a bold step towards ensuring every employee is given fair treatment and shown the dignity that they deserve in their work,” said Warsh in IBEW's response.
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