Java Blend Coffee Roasters and union reach settlement agreement

Java Blend's downtown Halifax location. (Andrew Sampson/CBC  - image credit)
Java Blend's downtown Halifax location. (Andrew Sampson/CBC - image credit)

An unfair labour practice complaint against Java Blend Coffee Roasters has been withdrawn after the Halifax-based company and the newly formed union representing its workers reached a settlement agreement on Sunday night.

In a social media post on Monday, Service Employees International Union Local 2 (SEIU Local 2) called for an end to an ongoing boycott that had been in place since January, when nine employees who were attempting to form a union lost their jobs. The company said at the time the job cuts were a result of financial difficulties.

"It's a team effort. So many people worked on this project. You can't form a union with just one person," Cailen Pygott, a lead organizer of the union drive who worked for Java Blend for more than six years, told CBC in an interview on Monday.

The union said 90 per cent of the workers voted to join the union. It said an agreement was made to recall terminated employees and that it won a city-wide bargaining unit that includes Cortado Tasting Room, Coastal Wholesale and Java Blend cafes.

Over the next four weeks, the union said it will "start good-faith bargaining to win the best possible collective agreement."

In a statement to CBC News, the company — which has operated a popular cafe on Halifax's North Street for more than 30 years — confirmed that both the labour complaint and call for a boycott had been withdrawn.

'We stuck together ... and we won'

"In response to the complaint filed on January 31st, we had provided the union all our financials as well as working documents outlining our objective criteria for the layoffs," the company told CBC News in an email.

"We have agreed on a settlement last night and we will approach bargaining with the same transparency. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the union and the employees in good faith to reach a collective agreement."

Pygott noted the agreement came on the one-year anniversary of the day staff filed for certification with SEIU. He said he appreciates all the customers who respected the boycott.

"We faced down every single possible obstacle the employer could have put in front of us and we stuck together and we had solidarity with each other and we won ... if we can do that, then anyone in this city can do that."