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.