Cannabis: First unionized private dispensary workers achieve premium pay!

With the support of their union, budtenders at Clarity Cannabis have achieved hazard pay in recognition of their important work on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. UFCW 1518 became the first union to unionize private cannabis dispensary workers in Canada last February, when Clarity Cannabis workers joined the union.

The recognition comes as a result of internal worker activism. Clarity Cannabis budtenders were quick to mobilize around their COVID-19 concerns. While still waiting to negotiate their first contact, they contacted the union to step in. In addition to negotiating a $2 per hour boost for the budtenders retroactive to March 8, the workers & union also achieved to secure a return to work benefit, which came before the job-protected leave amendment to the BC Employment Standards Act, and scheduling by seniority.

With the federal government declaring medical cannabis production an essential service and the province allowing cannabis businesses to remain operational amidst COVID-19, it is important that these workers are recognized for their important work during this pandemic.

“We’re pleased to see the role of cannabis dispensary workers be recognized during this crisis,” says President Kim Novak. “The cannabis industry is an emerging sector and there are many gains to be made for these workers that we will continue to advocate for as we begin bargaining. This premium together with the strong health & safety measures the employer has put in place to protect these workers are steps in the right direction that we welcome.”

UFCW 1518 continues to advocate for cannabis workers and encourages other dispensaries in British Columbia to recognize the hard work of their staff during the COVID-19 crisis. Budtenders are front line workers and they deserve fairness and protections.

UFCW 1518 fights for fairness for over 23,000 union members across BC and the Yukon. Click here for information about joining a union, or you can connect with an organizer to learn more.