Let’s Get Blunt about Union Representation for Cannabis Workers

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December 2, 2020

UFCW has helped many workers in the Cannabis industry recognize the value of belonging to a Union.

Our Local Union – UFCW Locals 175 & 633 – was the first Union to organize a Cannabis retail store front – Canna Cabana – in Ontario. Those workers ratified their very first collective agreement in March 2021. Find out what kinds of things they negotiated into their agreement here!

Cannabis retail workers can benefit from Union representationCollective bargaining as a Union member puts the power back in your hands and can help make sure your best interests are considered as the industry continues to grow.

Has your employer tried to persuade employees to overlook violations of their rights under the employment standards act?

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Cannabis retail dispensaries were established as an essential service. Workers were, and in many cases continue to be, exposed to multiple hazards while making sure to adhere to health and safety measures, and dealing with increasing customer counts. The Cannabis industry has benefitted from people staying home more, and because people became more interested in products that relieve anxiety and stress.

With curbside pickup and delivery now pretty permanent parts of Cannabis retail, there’s no doubt that the products that Cannabis retailers provide and the knowledge that the industry’s employees have are vital services to many Ontarians.

In other words, it’s time for employees to share in that wealth through good, livable wages and workplace protections.

Many jobs continue to open up in the industry and often employers treat these positions as ‘entry level.’ But the truth is, from the very start those jobs require skill, expansive knowledge, and a passion for the product and customer experience. These are not entry level jobs.

Cannabis workers have the expertise, knowledge, and experience needed to assist customers with their purchases and to make edible Cannabis products for those customers. Our Union recognizes the skill you bring to your job.

Joining a Union means empowering yourself to have a voice when it comes to your working conditions. Collective bargaining means you can negotiate to make sure every job in the workplace comes with the appropriate compensation in terms of wages, benefits, and seniority rights.

Just like workers at the LCBO – who are also unionized – need to know about wine, spirits, and beer, you too need to know about the many strains of Cannabis, the ways to consume it, and the products available.

Many customers, especially those new to the product, rely on the services of budtenders and other staff to make their selections.

From edibles to flowers, oils and all of the accessories, your expertise is a valuable commodity for your workplace.

It takes years to master how Cannabis can affect individuals, and that knowledge comes from trial and experience. Understanding different means of consuming products, the difference between THC and CBD, the difference among strains, the terpene profiles, and the potency/concentration of products is all vital information you communicate to your customers. Your knowledge has an incredible impact on the customer’s experience in the store and in consuming the products.

Plus, in a relatively new industry, workers must constantly update their knowledge relating to changing laws and regulations, too.

You work hard and grow your knowledge as your career in the industry progresses. Your knowledge is valuable.

That dedication should be recognized and reflected in your wages, benefits, and other working conditions. Plus, joining a Union can also help improve the Cannabis industry as a whole. Collective bargaining can bring wages up and making high levels of health and safety the norm industry-wide.

In speaking to workers in the industry, our Organizers know that there are a number of health and safety concerns for Cannabis retail workers.

This includes:

  • Poor ventilation;
  • High humidity;
  • Low quality tools;
  • Poor ergonomics;
  • Chemical exposure;
  • Stress in a retail environment;
  • Dealing with difficult customers;
  • Bylaw and OHSA enforcement and committees;
  • Cleaning protocols and PPE during a Pandemic;
  • Frequent incidents causing cuts, bruises, and repetitive motion injuries.

Becoming a Union member with UFCW Local 175 can help make sure proper health and safety measures are in place to protect you. That means making sure all equipment, tools, and workspaces are appropriate for the work you do.

We know that employers can be intimidating. In the case of many Cannabis workers, employers have tried to take advantage of the youth and inexperience of their staff when it comes to knowing their rights as workers in Ontario.

Becoming a Union member with UFCW Local 175 means protection: Protection through a collective agreement that ensures your employer abides by all of the terms of that agreement. When they violate your rights, you will have a formal grievance and arbitration procedure to file a complaint.

Retail Cannabis store employees - Join UFCW 175

If you work in a Cannabis dispensary storefront or produce Cannabis edibles and beverages, and you want to learn more about what the Union can do for you, send our Organizers a message or give them a call!

You can use the form on this page, send an email to organizing@ufcw175.com or call 1-800-565-8329. All of your conversations with our Organizing Team are confidential.

Learn more about what it means to be a member of UFCW Local 175:

Plus, find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

UFCW Local 175 is the Local Union for Cannabis retail workers!

Please note, that Ontario’s farm-worker legislation prevents any Union from representing workers at Cannabis farms and growing facilities.

Ready to contact our Organizing Team? Fill out the form below & let us know about any questions you have. Remember that all communication with the Union is confidential.

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