Two new Trees locations join BC Budtenders Union

| David Brown

The employees at two new Trees Cannabis locations in BC have recently joined a union representing cannabis industry budtenders. 

Workers at two Trees Cannabis locations in Nanaimo have joined their colleagues at other locations across Vancouver Island by joining United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518, also known as the BC Budtenders Union. The two new locations make Trees Cannabis British Columbia’s first private unionized cannabis chain.

Workers at the two Trees locations in Victoria first joined the BC Budtenders Union in 2021, following employees at Clarity Cannabis being the first to join in 2020. The second two Trees locations recently joined them in solidarity, according to a press release from the union. 

“We are proud to welcome UFCW 1518’s newest members as they make history by organizing as the province’s first private wall-to-wall unionized cannabis chain.” says UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “These workers are setting a new standard for the cannabis industry, and we anticipate that their achievement will send shockwaves across the cannabis labour landscape, empowering workers across Canada to demand fairness and respect in their own workplaces.”

As of the certification at the Trees locations in Nanaimo, The BC Budtenders Union now represents workers at nine cannabis businesses and 16 locations.

Fifteen of these locations are cannabis stores. It also represents workers at a cannabis production facility in BC,  the first cannabis production facility to successfully unionize in Canada, following a 2020 court ruling that found the company had unfairly penalized workers for trying to unionize

A third Trees location in Victoria joined the union in 2023, but the location is now closed. In 2020, employees at a cannabis store in Vancouver quietly voted to decertify the union a few months after joining, meaning the BC Budtenders Union no longer acts as their bargaining agent. 

In March of this year, a recently opened Canna Cabana location in Vancouver also joined the union, and members at The Original Farm recently approved their latest contract with the union.

In a post on the union’s Facebook page, it says the two-year contract includes a 6.5% wage increase, retroactive pay on all wage increases to November 11, 2023, doubling the Call-in premium to $1.00 per hour, and “timely and fair redistribution of cannabis samples from sales reps.”

BC began allowing producers to provide samples to retailers in 2023.

Trees Cannabis also has five locations in Ontario. In December 2023, Trees announced that it and its subsidiaries would be filing for creditor protection under the CCAA. The group had been seeking additional financing to keep it operating. On December 22, 2023, Trees was granted creditor protection. 

Then, in January, a court-appointed monitor of Trees Corporation began conducting a sale and investment solicitation process for the cannabis company.