After two baristas were allegedly dismissed from the roastery and cafe chain for unionizing, labour activists continue pressuring the company with protests and informal boycotts. But for the Spring Garden cafe, business has remained reliable. “Business always slows down this time of year, with the mass exodus of students,” says head barista Stu Cochrane.
Currently, a labour board hearing date has been set for June 27, between Just Us! and the union. However, both parties are still trying to come to an agreement before that date. They’re meeting this week about the two dismissed employees; they’ll also discuss how Just Us! can create a friendly environment for the union. “I’m pretty optimistic at this point,” says Jason Edwards, a union organizer with the SEIU.
Meanwhile, the SEIU keeps pushing back. Backed by the union, three employees filed a new complaint to the labour board on Monday, alleging that the company has repeatedly overlooked work breaks on shifts over five hours. Edwards says the complaint “shows the obvious nature of why people wanted to organize.”
At press time, management hadn’t yet received the document and couldn’t be reached to respond to it. But Cochrane has said that he regularly receives a break on his shifts and that Just Us!’ policy around breaks is one of the best in the food and beverage industry.
“We’re not really sure what they’re talking about at this point because nobody’s putting their cards at the table,” says Debra Moore. “Adversarial stuff just isn’t in my nature. Solutions that are win-win for everybody: that’s my goal. It might be naïve.”