Today, call center workers for the Ontario Cannabis Store voted overwhelmingly in favor of unionization with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada. One of Canada’s largest trade unions, UFCW represents more than 250,000 people across the country, and 1.3 million internationally, who work in every aspect of the food chain, health care, security, and many other key economic sectors.
The call center, operated by Calgary, Alberta-based Line One Contact Centres Inc., is located in downtown Toronto providing important customer support and mail tracking services for Ontario’s online cannabis store.
The fundamental issues which drove the employees to support unionization were lack of hours, lack of consistency in scheduling, and the need for job security and just cause protection. By winning their union certification vote, the workers have become the first union members attached to Ontario’s rapidly growing cannabis sector.
Workers first contacted UFCW Canada after learning that the union already represents thousands of workers in the cannabis sector in Quebec and the United States.
In the U.S., UFCW represents cannabis production and retail workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, and New Mexico. In Canada, UFCW represents the first unionized cannabis retail workers, at Société Québécoise du Cannabis, a.k.a. “SQDC” locations in Rosemont, Rimouski and Mirabel, Quebec.
Last, but certainly not least, the union is also single-handedly leading a legal challenge to the Ontario government’s exclusion of agricultural workers from the Labour Relations Act. Ever since the Mike Harris government in 1995, agricultural workers have been excluded from the coverage of the Labour Relations Act and thereby do not have a clear path to unionization. Since the Ontario Labour Relations Board issued its 2015 decision deeming cannabis production workers as agricultural workers, they’re left out too.
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