Workers at Starbucks locations in Cary and Peoria won union elections Tuesday, making the stores the first and second Starbucks to unionize in Illinois.

Starbucks employees in Cary voted 17-4 and employees in Peoria voted 9-2 to unionize, said Esau Chavez, a union organizer with the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United. Workers United is the Service Employees International Union affiliate that represents the Starbucks workers.

“We’re feeling incredibly empowered,” said Jon Gill, a barista at the Peoria store at 1200 W. Main St. in the Campustown Shopping Center.

“The wins that we are seeing at Starbucks are proof that no massive corporation is invincible,” said Gill, who has worked at the Peoria location since December. Gill said they would like to see wage increases as well as a contract with guaranteed hours so employees’ access to the company’s benefits is protected.

“Workers do have power, and if they organize, they can reach that power,” Gill said.

Employees at 230 Starbucks locations have filed for union elections in 31 states, according to Casey Moore, a barista on the Starbucks Workers United communications committee. Out of 35 stores that have had elections, 32 have voted to unionize, Moore said.

In statements, organizing committees at both Illinois stores celebrated Tuesday’s votes.

“This is a win for every store, and really every partner that works for Starbucks. There is still a long road ahead, but we look forward to working with corporate as partners in making Starbucks the best employer for essential workers,” said workers at the Cary store, which is located at 620 Northwest Highway.

“Our victory here in Peoria is a product of the incredible organizing that Starbucks workers have done across the country. We stand in solidarity with every Starbucks worker and any worker fighting for a better world,” the Peoria organizing committee said.

A representative for Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Parties have one week to file objections to the votes with the National Labor Relations Board, said agency spokesperson Kayla Blado. If no objections are filed, the results will be certified.

In Chicago, six stores have filed for elections, according to Grace Easterby, an organizer with the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United. Three of those stores — in the Loop, Logan Square and Hyde Park — have election dates set for June 7, with ballots going out to workers in early May.

The other Chicago Starbucks that have filed for union elections are in Bucktown, Edgewater and Edgewater Beach.

tasoglin@chicagotribune.com



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