Staff at Tokyo Smoke Rymal say yes to union

The final vote for Tokyo Smoke Rymal to unionize with Local 1006A came in Friday. 

Tokyo Smoke Rymal is the 2nd cannabis store to unionize in Hamilton

Tokyo Smoke opened its latest storefront in Stoney Creek on Feb. 24, 2020. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Staff at a retail cannabis store in Stoney Creek have voted to unionize.

The final vote for Tokyo Smoke Rymal to unionize with UFCW Local1006A came in Friday. 

The union says key issues for the 11 workers included health and safety, staffing, benefits and having a voice and representation at work.

"Not only are we able to represent what we want to see in the industry moving forward, but we're able to have some accountability and consistency," said Kathleen Quinn, an employee at the store.

The vote needs to be ratified, but the union says support for joining the Local 1006A was overwhelming.

"Solidarity was the key to our members' victory at Tokyo Smoke," Lesley Prince, Local 1006A organizing director, said. 

"Increasingly, cannabis workers are turning to UFCW Canada to ensure their voices are heard and their interests and rights are protected in the highly profitable cannabis sector."

Tokyo Smoke second cannabis store in city to unionize

Tokyo Smoke Rymal is now the second cannabis store to unionize in Hamilton after Canna Cabana unionized with UFCW 175 last year.

They ratified their first agreement as members on Dec. 18, which included an increase to hourly pay, signing bonuses, more paid sick days, and changes to overtime pay and scheduling.

In the move to the legalization of cannabis and selling it, Quinn said stores were popping up quickly and not all of them were up to provincial standards.

Quinn said unionization will help the industry not "devolve into low wages and stuff you see in retail sectors because people do have a lot of specialized knowledge."

She also said customers will be able to see the changes first-hand.

"They're going to see workers who are happy really happy, you're not going to see as much turnover ... we really love our clients and I think they like seeing consistent faces, and we want to make sure we're keeping our best talent."