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Can the right to unionize be balanced with social responsibility and affordability?

According to its website, the Just Us! Co-op set out in 1995 to become Canada’s first Fair Trade coffee roaster. It was a small, but bold experiment to show that the coffee business, and all businesses, could be done differently, putting People and the Planet before Profits™ locally and globally.

The Co-op  wanted to make connections with small-scale organic coffee farmers around the world and conscientious consumers in Atlantic Canada and beyond.

Eventually, they also planned to get into tea, chocolate and sugar but their stated collective aim was always the same:

To come together to do something meaningful, to make a difference, to make it exciting and hopefully to make it minimally profitable so we can continue to have our jobs.

According to the Services Employees International Union Local 2, it began an organizing drive in December 2012 at the Just Us Halifax location on Spring Garden Road. The Union claims that on March 10, 2013, the vast majority of staff at the Spring Garden Road location met with a representative of the Canadian Labour Congress to discuss unionization.

On March 27, 2013, two former employees were terminated and they state that the store manager cited physicality, tendonitis, future plans and personal stress as the reasons for the termination. They filed a complaint of unfair labour practice with the Labour Board of Nova Scotia claiming that the terminations were as a result of the unionization drive.

The General Manager who works in head office in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, claims that she knew nothing about any union organizing drive. She states that the on-site manager concerned and the employees mutually agreed to part company. She also states that the company has no problems with unions and prides itself on a social justice mandate, continually working to develop direct relationships with farmers all over the world and paying fair, above-market prices for the products they sell.

Amery Boyer
The Human Element, just a different way to manage

Amery Boyer

Amery Boyer, CHRP, MBA is a Human Resources professional with extensive experience in human resources, staffing and employee relations for both the private and public sectors and various levels of governments. She was a contributing editor of The Human Resources Advisor, Atlantic edition published by First Reference. Read more
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