UFCW 1518 first to unionize cannabis dispensary workers in Canada

Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis joined UFCW 1518 last week, making them the first cannabis workers at a private dispensary to unionize in Canada. Workers cited poor treatment, lack of security and safety training as reasons for joining union.

“We are excited to welcome these new members to our union and we are proud to be the first union in Canada to organize private dispensaries,” said President Kim Novak. Budtenders connected with UFCW 1518 in an effort to address outstanding concerns, including fair wages, a respectful workplace, safety and security on the job, and education and training opportunities. “The cannabis industry is an emerging sector and it’s important to build worker power so that budtenders, as well as other cannabis workers, have a strong voice. That is our union’s commitment,” says Novak.

Budtender Emma Riderelli said she joined the union to build a future for herself and her co-workers in the industry, “Legal cannabis is a game changer for those struggling with health conditions and I am proud that the work I do helps people. Unfortunately, the pay is just not there and educational opportunities are few and far between.”

Adelaide Wilder is another budtender who joined her co-workers in organizing Clarity Cannabis. “I am passionate about the work I do, but I honestly couldn’t afford to keep doing it. Budtending requires research and experience to do well, we’d like to look at it as a long term opportunity. Joining a union is going to help us make that a reality.”

The union will meet with workers in the coming weeks to discuss what they would like to see in their first collective agreement.


Clarity Cannabis: VOTE YES this Thursday, February 13!

Voting Information:

  • Date: Thursday, February 13, 2020
  • Location & Times: 855 Johnson St. ( 12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.) & 603 Gorge Rd. East (2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.)
  • Contact: Stephen Portman (604.230.4874 or sportman@ufcw1518.com)

Get the facts!


  • Fact – By voting YES, you will gain the power to collectively negotiate with your employer. There’s power in numbers! You and your co-workers form the union and union staff are here to assist in your fight for fairness.
  • Fact – Unionized workers make more money than non-union workers, even after paying union dues
  • Fact – Your union dues will cost you no more than 2% of your wages. You do not pay anything until you vote to accept your union contract. Union dues are also 100% tax-deductible!

Why should you vote YES? 

  1. You shouldn’t have to wonder when your next raise is coming. With a union, you have a say in your wage progression; from how raises are applied to how much the increases are.
  2. Education and training are a big part of being a skilled Budtender. Your union will bargain proposals in your first contract to negotiate for employer support for cannabis sommelier training and licensing fees.
  3. You have a life and it is only fair to expect reasonable notice of scheduling and reliable hours. Your union will see that you receive fair notice for work so you can plan your life.
  4. Respect on the shop floor is what the collective power of a union is all about. Once you are organized you will have a fair process for communication and discipline with your employer. With a union, you will not be alone standing up for your rights. Professional representatives will be there to support you.

You know what changes should be made to make your job better. UFCW 1518 staff is here to assist you in enhancing your jobs but this is only possible if you vote YES!

 Learn more about this campaign at ufcw1518.com/bc-budtenders-union

Mediation with Sobeys scheduled before reopener bargaining

UFCW 1518 and Sobeys will enter mediation on March 2 with mediator Julie Nichols. Key for the union is obtaining a definition of “profitable year” as outlined in Special Officer Vince Ready’s decision. UFCW 1518 filed a grievance last December regarding 14 Safeway locations across the province it says have become profitable since the Special Officer handed down his decision in 2018. The grievance stems from the union’s review of Sobeys’ financials.

Sobeys will conduct another financial review with union leadership before mediation begins on March 2 with the goal of identifying if there are more stores UFCW 1518 believes to be profitable. In addition to defining a profitable year, the parties have agreed to discuss other outstanding issues during mediation, including:

  • The transition of stores from Appendix B to Appendix A and the return of wages and benefits (including ATO) that have been frozen.
  • A minimum wage spread that the union is seeking due to the fact that the majority of Grid B employees are frozen at minimum wage.
  • The outstanding vendor stocking grievance where the union is arguing for restrictions on the current vendor stocking that is allowed in Appendix B stores.
  • The 2021 reopener and what parameters and provisions can be agreed upon.

Another mediation date has been scheduled for April 29.