Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis ratified their first collective agreement on February 25. The contract ushers in major wage and workplace improvements and will set new standards in the private cannabis retail industry. Clarity Cannabis budtenders became the first private dispensary workers in Canada to unionize when they joined UFCW 1518 in the fall of 2019. These workers came together to confront low wages, poor treatment, and a lack of benefits, training, and educational opportunities in the cannabis industry, forming the BCBUD division of UFCW 1518.
An overwhelming 85% of unionized members at the Gorge Road and Johnston Street locations voted in favour of the improvements. These cannabis workers negotiated their contract through the COVID-19 crisis and were the first private dispensary to earn Pandemic Pay for their essential work. They continually demonstrated unity and solidarity throughout the organizing and bargaining process to arrive at their new contract.
“I joined the union to help grow protections and benefits for workers looking to build a future doing what they love,” said budtender Emma Riderelli. With this newly ratified contract, workers at Clarity Cannabis have a bright future to look forward to in an industry they care about. The Clarity Cannabis collective agreement features significant improvements and will secure more power for the workers. Some highlights of the contract include:
- Wage Increases: All employees will receive a wage increase between $1.25 (7.8%) and $2.50 (16.6%) per hour.
- Scheduled Raises: New budtenders will start at $17.00 per hour and receive regular $0.25 pay increases up to $19.25. New supervisors will start at $17.50 with a top rate of $19.75. *As of ratification, no employee at unionized Clarity Cannabis locations will be making less than $17.25 per hour.
- Lump Sums: A one-time, retroactive lump sum bonus that is estimated to be between $700-$2700.
- Cannabis Sommelier Training: All employees who pass their probationary period and who work an average of 16 hours per week will be entitled to enroll in cannabis sommelier training to be paid for by the employer (up to $300). Workers will receive their regular hourly pay for all hours in the training program.
- Tasting and Store Discount: Budtenders will be eligible to buy up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis per day at Liquor Distribution Branch prices (approximately 30% less than retail) for all new product strains that are on weekly special.
- Benefits: All benefits suspended during COVID-19 will be restored for unionized Clarity Cannabis employees.
- Paid Sick Days: For the first time, up to five paid sick days per year with no requirement to provide a doctor’s note.
- Certification and Licensing: Guaranteed, employer-paid reimbursement for all licensing and certification required for the selling of non-medical cannabis including Selling it Right and Worker Security Verification.
- Increased Vacation: A one-week increase in paid vacation for any employee with over four years of experience.
Budtenders and cannabis-industry workers interested in winning improvements at their workplace can join the BCBUD division of UFCW 1518 and learn more at ufcw1518.com/cannabis. UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 25,000 members working in the community health, hospitality, retail, grocery, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia.