Café workers blazing the trail to unionization

Baristas poised to set a precedent for part-time workers across the country
By Sabrina Nanji
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 08/07/2013

Union leaders and employers across the country are watching with bated breath as a group of baristas in Nova Scotia are brewing up a bid to unionize.

At the end of July, employees at a Second Cup coffee shop in Halifax applied to the Labour Board of Nova Scotia to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2, after two baristas from a Just Us! café successfully did the same.

The move is a rare one for so-called precarious workers, who historically have been underrepresented by the labour movement. Because these workers traditionally are recent graduates or in-between jobs, the sector is virtually untapped by unions — and has the potential to set a precedent across the fast food and retail industry.