After layoffs, Cannabis NB employees in 2 cities take steps to unionize
New Brunswick Union calls move to organize 'a step in the right direction'
Cannabis NB employees at two New Brunswick stores have taken the first steps toward joining a union.
The announcement from the New Brunswick Union, which represents many public employees in the province, comes just over a week after a major round of layoffs at the cannabis authority.
A majority of employees at the Campbellton and Miramichi Cannabis NB locations signed cards with the New Brunswick Union, said union president Susie Proulx-Daigle.
"In these specific stores, we had a large majority," said Proulx-Daigle. "We decided that those employees should have the right to freedom of association, which is in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
Once the application has been made by NBU to the Labour and Employment Board, the board will contact Cannabis NB to compare lists and ensure that the cards match the employees working in the two locations. Then then notices will be put up inviting any objections.
The employer could, in theory, object to unionization on a store-by-store basis, in which case the application would go to a hearing, Proulx-Daigle said.
"We would contest on the basis that we think they should have freedom of association."
The process might be slowed by the fact that the responsibilities and duties of Cannabis NB jobs have not been officially defined and passed through the legislature, she said.
"It's going to take a little longer than usual because of that, but the sooner the better," Proulx-Daigle said.
'No honest one-on-one- discussion'
The approximately 60 layoffs earlier this month were "representative of normal new retail industry operations and long-term fiscal responsibility," according to Cannabis NB communications specialist Marie-Andrée Bolduc.
But according to Proulx-Daigle, employees have indicated "there's no honest one-on-one discussion happening with employees to help them improve if they need improvement, or help them understand what they need to do to fit the corporate image."
She said NBU has heard that "people are afraid to even say that they're talking about a union."
The move to unionize follows not "just the recent round of layoffs, but the layoffs before that — and the fact that there is no rhyme or reason to who gets let go," she said.
"I think they just want a fair shot at continuing to do the job that they do."
"For these people to step up is good in that it may allow other stores to say, 'if they can do it, we can too.'"