Workers at Trees Cannabis in BC join union

| Staff

Another group of employees at a cannabis store in BC have joined a union dedicated to cannabis retailers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) 1518’s “BC Bud Union” announced today that employees at the chain of cannabis stores based in BC will be joining the union. UFCW 1518 has over 23,000 union members across BC and the Yukon.

Employees at two of the four Trees locations in BC elected to join the union, both in Victoria, on Fort Street and Cook Street.

Employees at Trees join workers at Clarity Cannabis, who joined the union in early 2020, the first cannabis retail workers to unionize in Canada, and the Victoria Cannabis Buyer’s Club who joined earlier this year. Following joining local 1518, the union helped workers at Clarity earn a $2 an hour raise and other worker protections. 

The union says they will begin negotiating workplace improvements with the employer over the next few months.

“We are required to have a deep understanding of the cannabis plant and are expected to provide compassionate customer service,” Kate, a Trees Cannabis supervisor, explained. “This goes above and beyond traditional retail work. To help us thrive in these roles, we should be given a living wage, receive pay for ongoing education, and have collective bargaining power to decide how our job is done.”

Union President Kim Novak says they are pleased by the newest addition.

“We are so excited to have the workers at Trees Cannabis join UFCW 1518. They are part of a growing movement of budtenders and essential workers who are realizing the power that they have and fighting for better wages and working conditions.”

Earlier this year, workers at BC cannabis producer Potanicals Green Growers also voted to join the union. This was the first cannabis production facility to unionize in Canada. In 2020, a court ruled the company had unfairly penalized workers for trying to unionize. In September 2020 the union began organizing and soon applied to be certified for 17 employees at the Peachland operation. Then, on October 5, the company laid off nine employees at the same Peachland operation, citing “the Company’s financial circumstances”.  The union argued these employees were laid off for seeking to unionize. The court agreed. 

In 2016, UFCW tried to organize workers at a MedReleaf facility in Ontario, but a the  Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled the workers did not have the right to unionize. The union has appealed that ruling.