United Weed Workers is a volunteer-run grassroots organization that works in solidarity with cannabis workers, consumers and those affected by the legacy of Cannabis in North America.
We were founded in Hamilton by a group of cannabis workers with a united goal in mobilizing ourselves to facilitate change in our industry.
We are always looking for volunteers and members from different parts of the industry:
Drop our Outreach team an email for more info. Let us know a little about yourself and your background.
We began after months of personal and professional support during the union contract negotiation between a major Canadian cannabis retailer and its Hamilton budtenders.
During this process, we began networking with stores in Ontario, BC, and Alberta and realized the opportunity for further organizing.
What is precarious work?
Precarious work is marked by unstable hours, low wages, little to no benefits and a lack of health and safety. Young people, gig workers, women, and racialized workers are increasingly found in these positions.
In cannabis precarious work can be found in both the retail and agricultural sectors.
In retail, wages are not reflective of a living wage, benefits packages are limited and hours are not guaranteed week to week. Yet cannabis retail workers are at an increased risk of violence from robbery and they must complete specialized government training in order to work in these retail positions. Cannabis retail workers have also been deemed “essential” during the COVID-19 lockdown, but pandemic pay has not been instituted and health and safety protocols vary considerably across the industry.
Additionally, more and more women in the industry have been speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment and well known industry leaders.
Moving to a regulated retail market does have minimum standards set out by the Employment Standards Act, Ontario Health and Safety Act, the Labour Relations Act and Ontario Human Rights Code. However, more workplaces are increasingly organizing as these standards are not being followed, something the legacy market was not subject to.
In agriculture, we see similar issues in addition to increased health and safety concerns surrounding the use of tools and machinery and COVID 19. The cannabis industry has begun to utilize migrant workers who do not qualify for protection and minimum standards affording to other workers due to loopholes in the federal and provincial laws. The lack of permanent immigration status leaves them open to abuse by employers with little resource for a solution.
What is the Employment Standards Act and What are your Rights?
There are laws in Canada and Ontario that outline your minimum rights at work. Every province is different and this toolkit is ever expanding to include them. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the working conditions, safety and minimum standards you are entitled to. Knowledge is power!
What if I’m not getting what I deserve?
That’s where we come in! Reach out, talk to us, we want to help you! Check out the resources in this toolkit and if you have further questions feel free to email or text. Additionally, there are many other organizations we refer to. Feel free to reach out to them and if you can spare support their efforts through donations.