Stella's employees get first union contract at Sherbook location

Employees of Stella's Cafe on Sherbrook Street are getting a boost to their wages as well as a number of other benefits under their new unionized contract.

2 Stella's locations voted to unionize following Not My Stella's campaign nearly a year ago

Staff at the Stella's location on Sherbrook Street received their first collective agreement last month and learned more about it on Sunday. (Ron Boileau/Radio-Canada)

Employees of Stella's Café on Sherbrook Street are getting a boost to their wages as well as a number of other benefits under their new unionized contract.

Staff had a meeting on Sunday where the details of their first collective agreement were revealed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

The deal brings a five per cent increase in wages, paid breaks, increased vacation percentages, a benefit plan and a respectful workplace policy built into the union contract, said Jeff Traeger, UFCW Local 832 president.

The union represents all servers, dishwashers, cooks, hosts, baristas and expos (those who prepare food to be taken to tables).

The union also represents employees of Stella's in Osborne Village, for whom Traeger is now focused on getting a deal.

"We expect to finalize a deal for the members at the Osborne location shortly," he said.

Unlike other collective agreements, the members at the Sherbrook location didn't vote on this one because it was finalized by the Labour Board.

"We scheduled the meeting [to] talk about what was outstanding between the parties directly with our members and what the board ruled on them," Traeger said.

Under provincial legislation, that contract is in effect for the next year, expiring Sept. 20, 2020.

The new contract also brings the backing of the union grievance process to solve any future workplace harassment issues or other issues that may occur, Traeger said.

The collective agreement comes nearly a year after a social media campaign called Not My Stella's was launched about workplace treatment at the Winnipeg chain. Shortly after the Instagram account went up in November, dozens of current and former employees posted instances of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and abuse from senior staff.

"It means they will have the assistance of the union to bring their issues forward to the employer," Traeger said.

The union and the employer had been bargaining from March until the end of July and weren't able to agree on a contract, so they went to the province's Labour Board for mediation, which led to the finalized deal on Sept. 20.

As well as the issues brought up during the Not My Stella's campaign, Traeger​ expects the union to help employees negotiate things like scheduling, benefits and how gratuities are paid out.

In a statement to CBC News, Stella's owner Tore Sohlberg said, "Stella's has, for some time now, been fully engaged with this process and has undertaken negotiation in good faith. Our staff and management at all Stella's locations continue to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for our 500 plus 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."