Two B.C. dispensaries become first private pot shops in Canada to unionize

Error message

The MailChimp PHP library is missing the required GuzzleHttp library. Please check the installation notes in README.txt.

Warning message

The subscription service is currently unavailable. Please try again later.
Twitter icon

Budtenders at a British Columbia cannabis retailer are reported to be the first private-sector pot shop employees to unionize in the country.

Staff at two Clarity Cannabis dispensaries in the Greater Victoria area have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 1518, the union announced Tuesday in a press release. Clarity Cannabis operates seven stores in B.C. with approximately 40 employees.

“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,” UFCW Local 1518 president Kim Novak said in a statement. “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,” Novak said.

Staff members cited a desire to address concerns regarding security, a respectful workplace, fair wages and education and training opportunities as reasons for joining the union.

“Legal cannabis is a game-changer for those struggling with health conditions and I am proud that the work I do helps people,” said budtender Emma Riderelli. “Unfortunately, the pay is just not there, and educational opportunities are few and far between,” Riderelli added.

Her colleague concurs, saying that she hoped that the organization would allow her to continue working at a job she loves while being fairly compensated for her work.

Some employees of Quebec’s provincially run Société québécoise du cannabis stores have also joined unions.  / Photo: Pierre Obendrauf Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette files

“I am passionate about the work I do, but I honestly couldn’t afford to keep doing it,” said budtender Adelaide Wilder. “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,” Wilder said.

While the stores are said to represent the first private dispensaries in Canada to unionize, some employees of Quebec’s provincially run SQDC (Société québécoise du cannabis) stores have also joined unions, with workers citing their educational and informative mandate as reasons the job goes above and beyond a standard retail gig.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Regional Marijuana News: