Zen Leaf Buchanan Employees Vote for Union Representation, Aiming for Better Work Conditions

March 6th, 2024 Business & Industry
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Employees at the Zen Leaf cannabis retail facility in Buchanan have chosen to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951, marking a significant step in labor organization within the industry. The vote, which took place on March 1st, showcases a strong desire among workers for better representation and workplace protections. UFCW 951 President John Cakmakci expressed enthusiasm over the workers' decision, emphasizing the union's commitment to securing a contract that ensures competitive wages, quality healthcare, and workplace guarantees and protections for the Zen Leaf Buchanan team.

This move by the Zen Leaf Buchanan staff highlights a growing trend towards unionization in the cannabis sector, an industry often criticized for high employee turnover. A resounding 85 percent of employees at the facility expressed their support for joining the union, with plans to commence bargaining for their first contract soon. Justin McMeans, a staff member at Zen Leaf Buchanan, voiced his frustrations over exploitative work conditions and called for budtenders across Buchanan and Michigan to advocate for fairer treatment and consider unionization.

Zen Leaf, with dispensaries across 12 states and its only Michigan outlet in Buchanan, opened its doors in 2019, becoming both the city's inaugural dispensary and the first to unionize. Kelsey Rems, another employee at the Buchanan location, shared her pride in their collective action towards improving working conditions. The Buchanan team joins a growing number of cannabis workers in the U.S. and Canada who have aligned with UFCW locals, supported by the UFCW International's Cannabis Workers Rising campaign. Recent years have seen similar unionization efforts at other Zen Leaf locations, including a Connecticut dispensary that ratified the state's first union contract in February. Negotiations for the Zen Leaf Buchanan employees' contract are expected to begin soon, setting a precedent for labor rights within the cannabis industry.

Related: Ascend Cannabis Store Employees in Michigan Approve Teamsters Union Contract

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