Union grows ranks in cannabis industry of B.C.

Cannabis workers in Peachland, B.C. join United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Union representation gives cannabis workers an opportunity to improve labour conditions. Zbynek Pospisil/Getty Images

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A union representing workers in the cannabis industry of B.C. has added more members to its ranks.

Workers at the Potanicals Green Growers have joined Local 1518 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Potanicals operates in Peachland, B.C. as a grower and merchant of cannabis.

In particular, the 13 workers at the company represent the first batch of employees in a growing operation to join a union in Canada.

The workers have also ratified their first collective agreement.

In a media release on March 31, 2021, UFCW 1518 stated these developments constitute a “new milestone” for the union.

Union representative Eva Prkachin told CannCentral that Potanicals brings to three the number of units in the BC BUD division of the union.

To explain, workers at Victoria Cannabis  Buyers Club and Clarity Cannabis, a compassion club and dispensary, respectively, comprise the two other units.

Prkachin noted that the needs of workers in the cannabis industry “revolve around their desire to have careers in cannabis rather than just jobs”.

For example, employees want enhanced education, like sommelier training.

In addition, they seek better safety, living wages, and “more respect at work”.

“We address these needs through collective bargaining and the power of our movement,” Prkachin stated.

In the media release, the union cited some highlights of the new collective agreement ratified by workers at Potanicals.

These include a “new, clearer wage scale with progression based on the number of hours an employee works”.

In addition, the agreement provides five guaranteed paid sick days.

Moreover, the contract establishes a “grievance procedure for solving problems that arise in the workplace”.

Union increases membership

UFCW 1518 president Kim Novak welcomed the Potanical cannabis workers to the union.

“Our BC BUD division keeps growing because cannabis industry workers know their value and the power they can wield when they work together,” Novak said in the media release.

Meanwhile, Prkachin also recalled to CannCentral that cannabis workers in other parts of Canada have joined the union as well.

In October 2018, workers at four retail locations in Quebec chose the UFCW local in the province as their union.

The members work at the Rosemont, Rimouski, Sainte-Foy, and Mirabel locationsof the Société québécoise du cannabis, or SQDC, the province’s cannabis retail chain.

Moreover, UFCW counts workers at the Tokyo Smoke cannabis dispensary in Stoney Creek in Hamilton, Ontario as members.

Workers in the Suprette dispensary in Ottawa have also joined the UFCW.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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