US: First private-sector cannabis retail workers on mainland unionize

Workers at an East Hastings cannabis shop are venturing into green territory after a union vote last week. Together, staff decided to join the BC Budtenders Union – a division of UFCW 1518 – making them the first private-sector retail workers in the cannabis industry to unionize on the mainland.

UFCW 1518 currently represents growers at the Potanicals greenhouse in Peachland, but Eggs Canna marks the progressive union’s first organizing drive at a mainland dispensary.

UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson sees this latest grassroots achievement as proof that workers can be the loudest voice in the room and guide a whole industry, even one as coveted as cannabis.

“To put it into perspective, adult-use cannabis was only legalized in 2018,” he says. “Profiteers obviously jumped to stake their claim and capitalize on this new market. But they weren’t the only ones to move quick. From the moment the first shops started opening in Victoria, frontline staff were looking for ways to improve their working conditions and to have a say in how the industry was run."

“Fast forward four years and 70% of the for-profit cannabis shops in the capital city have unionized. Today, we’re excited to get behind the Budtenders at Eggs Canna and start to organize around Vancouver. Workers have been at the forefront of this industry from its inception, shapeshifting cannabis to benefit their communities, and their influence is only growing. These folks are unstoppable,” Johnson adds.

Like so many British Columbians hired to sell cannabis products in the ever-expanding boutique bud industry, staff at Eggs Canna are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about cannabis. They care about the product, the customer experience, and the community they serve. The Eggs Canna website proudly states “We don’t hire budtenders, we train Cannaseurs.”

"The workers want their pay, benefits, respect, and overall working conditions to reflect this high-level training. Ultimately, they want fairness. With UFCW 1518 by their side, Eggs Canna employees, along with all their fellow members, are poised to raise the bar in industry standards, which BC Bud members are already doing."

Johnson also sees the Eggs Canna staff's success as an opening for more Mainland workers to join the movement, especially growers in large-scale private greenhouses and outdoor growing operations.

“At every point along the cannabis supply chain, workers deserve a voice,” he says. “Everyone that works with cannabis plays an integral role in its production process. From its growth to its distribution, sale, delivery, and eventually consumption, pot must serve everyday people. Workers can ensure it does by unionizing.”

For more information:
UFCW
www.ufcw.org 


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