Local restaurants with the word “union” in the title include Union 15, Union Restaurant & Gameyard and Pints&union.

In pop music, there’s a “union” album (Grave Dancers Union by Soul Asylum) and many songs, including Union of the Snake (Duran Duran) and State of the Union (Chicago). Union College is in Schenectady NY, a men’s store in California is called Union Los Angeles, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ceased to exist 30 years ago.

“Union” in the preceding examples implies certain nuances of meaning. To be more specific, Merriam-Webster defines a labor union is “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions.”

This is where the word might get contentious.

Workers at Heine Brothers’ Coffee stores aim to unionize, by Jacob Munoz (89.3 WFPL)

Workers for a Louisville coffee shop chain publicly announced Friday their plan to unionize and seek improved wages, benefits and working conditions.

Heine Brothers’ Coffee employees and supporters held a downtown press conference at the corner of South 5th and Main Street near the chain’s PNC Tower location. They were joined by members of a branch of the 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU). They are looking to be represented by the SEIU, which includes about 3,000 Louisville workers across different industries.

The Heine Brothers story comes on the heels of activity at a chain coffee shop you may have heard of.

Louisville Starbucks Employees Announce Intent To Unionize, Following Nationwide Movement, by Danielle Grady (LEO Weekly)

Workers at a Louisville Starbucks location announced today that they plan to unionize, joining the nationwide Starbucks Workers United Movement.

If they succeed, employees at the Factory Lane Starbucks in the East End of Louisville would be the first workers at a corporate owned Starbucks in the state of Kentucky to unionize, according to a news release sent out by Workers United, the union that the Starbucks Workers United movement is organizing with.

Since December, Starbucks employees at over 135 stores in the United States have started the process to unionize, according to the release — and some have succeeded.

However, food service unions aren’t a new idea.

Unions are gaining momentum at restaurants. They’ve been here before, by Kristin Schwab at Marketplace.

Food-service unions were so common that membership was portable. Workers took their benefits with them from job to job. Unions didn’t just benefit workers, either. Employers turned to unions for hiring, human resources issues and even scheduling when someone called in sick.

By the 1950s, nearly one-third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. But, remember how more restaurant workers unionized as manufacturing grew? The opposite was also true. When manufacturing declined, so did restaurant unionization.

It’s too early to draw conclusions, apart from this being a story well worth watching.