Another Victoria cannabis store joins budtender union

Published on February 4, 2022 by oz. staff

The BC Bud Union’s ranks are swelling in Victoria.

The union says its power has grown significantly after 14 cannabis workers at the Original Farm’s Hillside cannabis store location in Victoria joined the union, following their coworkers’ lead at the downtown Victoria location. That store unionized in December 2021.

UFCW 1518, which now covers close to 70 per cent of cannabis retailers in Victoria, says the two stores will now bargain their first collective agreement together.

“This is a big win for our members,” says Patrick Johnson, UFCW 1518’s Secretary-Treasurer, “especially because the Hillside staff had to defeat an anti-union campaign by Original Farm to get here. Their decision to vote union was even more powerful and necessary.”

The BC Labour Relations Board approved the BC Bud Union’s common employer application for the Hillside staff.

The union says employees have been suffering chronic short-staffing, high management turnover, and job insecurity.

“Trying to work in that environment feels like you’re at the edge of a sandbank cliff,” says one worker.

Workplace improvements they are pushing for include:

  • Better compensation and health benefits, including living wages that reflect their specialized and challenging work, and match rising rent costs
  • Protections against budtender burnout
  • Protection against bullying and sexual harassment
  • Equity-building language (including protections against nepotism)
  • Integrating mental health awareness programs and tools into the shop for staff and customers

UFCW 1518 says its members throughout Victoria are “re-inventing the cannabis industry with innovative and aspirational contract language,” such as employer-paid cannabis sommelier training and tasting discounts.