Gimme! Coffee baristas vote overwhelmingly to unionize

A vote conducted Wednesday among baristas at Gimme! Coffee, under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board, was resoundingly in favor of unionizing, according to the Tompkins County Workers Center.

An NLRB agent (far left) counts votes on Wednesday, with Kevin Cuddeback, Gimme! Owner; Pete Meyers, TCWC; Korbin Richards, Gimme! Union Barista Organizer; Caleb Harrington, Gimme! Union Barista Organizer; and Samantha Mason, Gimme! Union Barista Organizer. Photo courtesy of Tompkins County Workers Center.

Most of the “full-time, regular part-time and variable-hour employees with the job titles of Barista, Lead Barista, or Barista/Design & Communications Assistant” who were eligible to vote turned out on Wednesday, and decided 94% to 6% in favor of organizing a union to negotiate employment contracts for their workplaces.

85% of eligible employees voted on Wednesday. The final vote count, conducted by an NLRB agent, showed 16 employees in favor to one against unionizing.

Following the vote, the baristas are now represented by and are now members of Workers United Local 2833.

According to the Tompkins County Workers Center, the next step will be for baristas to elect a bargaining committee and then establish communications with Gimme! management to begin contract negotiations.

“This union is a crucial step in moving forward with improving the lives and workplaces of hospitality workers in Tompkins County,” said barista Samantha Mason in a statement. “Our next step at Gimme! is negotiating a contract.”

Gimme! Coffee founder and owner Kevin Cuddeback told 14850 Magazine he’s “taken a neutral position” on his employees’ unionization efforts. “I understand the social significance of unionization and I respect employees’ right to decide whether to do so,” he says.

Pete Meyers of Tompkins County Workers Center says his group is inspired by how “these workers are especially interested in building a union movement in Tompkins County to raise working conditions of hospitality workers throughout our community.”

“Workers’ voices make businesses better,” adds TCWC organizer Rob Brown. “The food service subset of the hospitality industry alone accounts for 1/3 of workers’ rights cases that the TCWC handles through our 15-year-old Workers’ Rights Hotline.”

Gimme! has three café locations in Ithaca, including one in Cornell University’s Gates Hall; one in Trumansburg; and three in New York City; as well as a roastery and bakery. They provide coffee wholesale to lots of Central New York restaurants and cafés, and ship via an online storefront.

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