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Owner of Pavement Coffeehouse says he supports union effort

A barista made a latte for a customer at a Pavement coffeehouse in 2010.
A barista made a latte for a customer at a Pavement coffeehouse in 2010.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The owner of Pavement Coffeehouse, an independent coffee chain with eight stores in Boston and Cambridge, told employees Wednesday that he is “committed to supporting” their efforts to unionize.

The response from owner Larry Margulies came a day after a group of employees sent him a letter asking that he recognize the union and participate in good-faith contract negotiations with Pavement’s roughly 80 employees. Organizers said they had garnered majority support through union authorization cards.

Margulies told the employees that he and the company’s executive team are “committed to supporting your desire to form a union.” A spokesperson for Pavement said management agreed to a “card check by a neutral arbitrator” and would recognize the union if most employees are in favor of it.

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“While the unionization process is something that is new to us, and obviously there will be much news to share in the coming days, I believe that together, we will make Pavement Coffeehouse a better and more just place to work,” he wrote.

Mitchell Fallon, communications and political director for the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE, which is representing the Pavement union, said in an e-mail that the group is “pleased to see that management is willing to speak with us, and hope that this continues in good faith.”

If Margulies does not voluntarily recognize the union, and at least 30 percent of the Pavement staff sign cards in favor of a union, the National Labor Relations Board can conduct a union election. Organizers for the Pavement Coffeehouse union effort said Tuesday that they are prepared to take that approach.

Emma Delaney, a supervisor at the company’s Allston coffeehouse, had previously told the Globe that the employees’ desire to unionize stems from concerns about low wages and having little or no say in decisions that affect employees, such as the lifting of coronavirus safety measures in shops.

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In his note, Margulies said the past year “has been exceedingly difficult for everyone,” disclosing that revenue was down 80 percent at one point in the pandemic.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.