Workers at Third Trees Cannabis Shop in Victoria, B.C. vote to Join the BC Budtenders’ Union
Workers at the Trees Cannabis Alpha Street location in Victoria, B.C. (Lekwungen Territory), recently voted to join the BC Budtenders’ Union and UFCW Local 1518, uniting this store with two existing Trees Cannabis locations in Victoria.
This endeavour was led by dedicated budtender Kyra Ball who has only worked at Trees Cannabis for less than a year. Kyra played a pivotal role in orchestrating the unionization of the third Victoria Trees location.
“This [Alpha Street] location opened after the two others were already unionized, and I always wondered why we weren’t,” said Ball.
Ball’s efforts were inspired by the fact that the two other Trees Cannabis locations in Victoria were already unionized, giving her the courage to begin the organizing process. Reading through the Trees Collective Agreement on the UFCW 1518 website also allowed her to gain insights into the provisions and benefits workers at her location could have.
But what led Ball into organizing was when she found out that the stores were bought out by Four20, an Albertan competitor, back in July, leaving Ball and the team of four in ambiguity.
“After I heard that Four20 bought out Trees Cannabis, we wondered what it meant for us and our jobs,” said Ball. “We found most of the information about the acquisition through online searches, but we still didn’t know what it meant for our future or how to ask the right questions.”
Ball now looks forward to having union representation and negotiating their first contract, hoping to secure access to fair hours and better coverage for sick days.
As Ball notes, these contract improvements would represent a win-win for workers and the customers that shop at Trees Alpha St.
“By BC law, we can’t open a store without at least two workers. With only four of us, it’s difficult to find coverage, so the store may stay closed that day, making it hard for us to serve and retain customers. By getting access to members at the other locations, we can keep the store open and help the business grow.”
The Alpha St. Location team spent little time deciding whether or not they should join UFCW 1518. They voted unanimously in favour of joining the union on Thursday, August 10, showing their strong solidarity.
If you are a cannabis worker and would like to know more about forming a union at your workplace, check out the BC Budtenders’ Union homepage at ufcw1518.com/cannabis.