Zen Leaf Buchanan votes to unionize

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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BUCHANAN — The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951 announced today workers at Zen Leaf, a Buchanan retail cannabis facility, voted in favor of UFCW 951 representation on March 1.

“The workers at Zen Leaf Buchanan wanted union representation, they made their voice heard with this vote, and we are extremely happy to have them as members of UFCW 951,” said UFCW 951 President John Cakmakci. “We celebrate with the Zen Leaf workers today and look forward to bargaining a contract that will give them the guarantees and protections in the workplace they deserve, along with competitive wages and quality healthcare.”

Workers at the dispensary see UFCW 951 union representation as a step in the right direction when it comes to a lasting career in an industry known for high employee turnover. 85 percent of the workers at the facility signed up to join the union and a committee will soon start to bargain their first contract.

“I have been in the industry for around four years now and I was tired of my work, and the work of my fellow budtenders, being exploited,” said Justin McMeans of Zen Leaf Buchanan. “I hope the rest of the budtenders in Buchanan, and the rest of Michigan, take note that it’s time to end the unfair working conditions. It’s time we stood together. It’s time we unionize.”

Zen Leaf owns cannabis dispensaries in 12 states, with Buchanan being its only Michigan location. Zen Leaf Buchanan opened in 2019 and was the first dispensary to operate in the city as well as the first to unionize.

“I am proud of us for organizing and coming together for all of our best interests,” said  Zen Leaf Buchanan Kelsey Rems.

The employees from Buchanan are among the tens of thousands of cannabis workers who have joined UFCW locals throughout the U.S. and Canada through the UFCW International’s Cannabis Workers Rising campaign. The Buchanan workers are also among several Zen Leaf employees to join a UFCW local just within the past two years, including a Connecticut dispensary which approved a union contract in February and became the first dispensary in the state to ratify a union contract. Contract negotiations for the Zen Leaf Buchanan workers are scheduled to begin shortly.