Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis ratified their first collective agreement on February 25 that will usher in major wage and workplace improvements.
Clarity Cannabis budtenders became the first private dispensary workers in Canada to unionize when they joined UFCW 1518 in 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 last year.
An overwhelming 85% of members voted in favour of the improvements. These workers negotiated their contract throughout 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 purchase 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 will be restored for unionized Clarity Cannabis employees.
- Paid Sick Days: For the first time, up to 5 paid sick days per year with no requirement to provide a doctor’s note.
- Paid breaks: A paid 30-minute meal break after 4 hours of work and a paid 15-minute break for shifts over 6 hours.
- 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 1-week increase in paid vacation for any employee with over 4 years of experience.
- Uniforms: All unionized employees will be paid $0.07 per hour to help cover the costs of doing laundry. Budtenders will now have a say in any new uniform design!
- Designated Days Off: Consecutive days off wherever possible including at least one weekend day.
- First Joint Labour Management: For the first time, a committee of union members from the stores will be elected to meet with the employer regularly to address issues and to work together to make Clarity Cannabis a better place to work.
- Guaranteed Scheduling and Close/Opens: Schedules at least 21 days before the first day of the workweek The employer has also agreed to eliminate scheduling employees to close and open the next day wherever possible.
This first collective agreement will remain in effect for one year following the date of ratification. UFCW 1518 can give notice to bargain four months from the end of the contract, enabling Clarity Cannabis budtenders to begin negotiating even more improvements as early as October 2021.
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.