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This article was published 23/9/2019 (432 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nearly a year after a public-awareness campaign drew attention to workplace issues at local restaurant chain Stella's, the staff of the Sherbrook Avenue location has finalized a union contract.
The contract, with UFCW Local 832, had been in the works for approximately seven months but was officially finalized Friday, a representative of the chain said. It applies to 48 employees at the restaurant on Sherbrook; the bakery staff is not included in the terms of the contract.
Of the seven restaurant locations across the city, Sherbrook is the first and, thus far, only location to have staff successfully unionize; however, the Osborne Village location's 16 employees are currently undertaking contract negotiations.
The push for unionization was largely spurred on by last November's "Not My Stella's" campaign in which several former and current employees stepped forward to publicly allege workplace harassment, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, poor labour practices and mistreatment by members of the chain's management team.
The restaurant's owners put regional manager Brad Burrows and vice-president of operations Grant Anderson on leave before firing them in December.
After completing a third-party human resources review, taking into account confidential feedback from 44 current and former employees, the restaurant also started its own HR department in December, pledging to revise its policies and develop a leadership training program to improve management, coaching and employee development.
"Stella's has, for some time now, been fully engaged with the process and has undertaken negotiation in good faith," owner Tore Sohlberg wrote to the Free Press. "Our staff and management at all Stella's locations continue to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for our 500+ employees.
"We are working together to build a best-in-class work environment. As always, our focus is the care of our employees and our customers."
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.