Winnipeg employees form 1st union at Canadian KFC/Taco Bell franchise

Staff at a Taco Bell/KFC in Winnipeg have unionized, becoming the first such franchise to do so in the company’s history in Canada.

Staff at 1651 Regent Avenue West 'really want it and they've suffered enough,' union organizer says

Employees at this KFC/Taco Bell at 1651 Regent Avenue West have unionized. (Google Maps)

Staff at a Taco Bell/KFC in Winnipeg have unionized, becoming the first such franchise to do so in the company's history in Canada.

"The workers really want it and they've suffered enough," said Ruby Syed, an organizer with Workers United Canada Council. 

A total of 28 employees from a franchise at 1651 Regent Avenue West received union certification from the Manitoba Labour Board on Tuesday. It took six weeks of planning to organize and gain approval, Syed said.

"This is very significant because it's the first of its kind," said Syed. "It has paved the way for other workplaces looking for the same type of change to improve their work conditions."

Syed said workers at the Taco Bell/KFC feel their voices will now be heard and are looking forward to sitting down at the negotiation table with their employer.

The main issues staff want to remedy relate to health and safety and wages, Syed said, adding employees are not getting paid a living wage currently. There is also an unfair distribution of benefits at the moment, Syed added.

"The favouritism; the newly hired get paid more than the seniority staff," she said.

Right now, staff at the franchise are making around $11.50 to $12 an hour, Syed said, adding employees plan to push for a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Syed was previously involved in the unionization of staff at a Tim Hortons on Portage Avenue and Wall Street. That franchise didn't close its doors, but it isn't altogether uncommon for privately-owned franchises to do so after staff form a union.

"It's common practice for some employers to do that, especially franchise stores," Syed said, adding employees at the Tim Hortons seem to be doing better now than they were before the union was created. "We're looking forward ... and we'll see from here."

Employees of the KFC-Taco Bell franchise on Regent are still waiting on a response from the franchise owner before moving forward with negotiations.

CBC News has reached out to the owners for comment but has yet to receive a response.