Baristas unite! Halifax coffee shop workers push to unionize


Current rock-bottom wholesale prices for coffee — below cost for many of Latin American growers — and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust, a fungus that slashes harvests, are making their lives a misery.


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Coffee shop workers in Halifax, Canada are leading a unique drive to unionize.

The push came after workers at Just Us! coffee shop in the Nova Scotia capital formed a union, encouraging baristas from other cafes to do the same.

Two baristas at Just Us! successfully joined the Local 2 Service Employees International Union. The coffee shop chain in Nova Scotia confirmed one of their stores had joined the union.

They also said that any new shops that opened would be unionized.

The push came as other employees were reportedly fired for trying to join a union. The company has said that they were not fired for joining a union.

Recently workers at two Second Cup cafes, a large chain across Canada, voted on whether to unionize. 

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The results of their vote have not yet been released.

The drive to unionize cafe employees could be a sign of the times. Coffee shops and similar service jobs do not usually have strong unions given the high turnover and employer resistance.

However, as young people are squeezed by the economic crisis, temporary cafe jobs have become more permanent.

The Canadian Press reported that labor experts claim that the recent activities in Halifax could spread across the country as young workers seek stability from their employers.