Industry updateTokyo Smoke workers latest in cannabis industry to unionize

Ontario's UFCW Local 1006A continues to see strong interest from weed workers exploring unionization
Jared Gnam Jared GnamMarch 15, 20215 min

Staff at a Tokyo Smoke store in Ontario are the latest in the cannabis industry voting to unionize.

On Monday, UFCW Canada Local 1006A welcomed workers of the Hamilton-based pot shop, who’ve been seeking fairness at work and a way to voice concerns.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union represents cannabis retail and cultivation workers across Canada and in the U.S.

Local 1006A, the union’s Ontario chapter representing 35,000 workers, says there’s been an uptick in interest from weed industry staff since Canada legalized in 2018.

“UFCW Local 1006A continues to see strong interest from cannabis workers exploring unionization, which is key to raising standards in the growing cannabis industry,” a union spokesperson said.

Read more: Victoria private cannabis workers first to unionize in Canada

Key issues for the Tokyo Store workers in Hamilton included health, safety, staffing, benefits, having a voice and representation at work.

“This union is a [way] to ensure the cannabis space remains progressive, fair and just,” newly unionized member Kathleen Quinn said in a statement. “We want to provide dignity and equity for all.”

Tokyo Smoke is a retail chain owned and operated by weed giant Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) (Nasdaq: CGC).

Workers at the Ontario Cannabis Store — the provincial company that manages wholesale distribution to private retailers as well as its own online sales — were the first in Ontario’s legal weed industry to join Local 1006A in July 2019.

Staff at the Superette pot shop in Ottawa also joined the local union last November.

A Canna Cabana store in Hamilton joined the UFCW 175 union last April. That pot shop belongs to national retailer High Tide Inc. (CSE:HITI), which operates in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The Hamilton store workers ratified their first agreement as members on March 5, which led to hourly pay increases, signing bonuses and more paid sick days.

Local 1006A notes that the cannabis industry is a precarious one, so these groups of Ontarian workers are keen on unionizing.

Top image of staff at Tokyo Smoke Rymal via UFCW Local 1006A

 

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