Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers union, the first cannabis workers at a private dispensary in Canada to organize. The budtenders at the British Columbia-based dispensary chose to join 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 organization said in a press release.
Emma Riderelli, a Clarity Cannabis budtender, said she joined the union due to her position’s low pay and the lack of educational opportunities offered by her employer. Her co-worker Adelaide Wilder said that while she is “passionate” about her work she “couldn’t afford to keep doing it” without joining a union.
“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.” – Adelaide, in a statement
Kim Novak, president of UFCW 1518, said the union was “proud to be the first … in Canada to organize private dispensaries.”
“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,” she said in a statement. “That is our union’s commitment.”
Two U.S. states – New York and California – require licensed cannabis companies to sign a labor peace agreement with workers. In Illinois, the scoring system for licenses provides higher marks for firms that maintain labor peace agreements. In the U.S., the UFCW launched a Cannabis Workers Rising campaign and represent “tens of thousands of workers across multiple states,” its website says.
The UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 24,000 retail, grocery, health, hospitality, grocery, industrial and professional sectors throughout British Columbia.