Zen Leaf Workers in Buchanan Vote to Unionize with UFCW 951

March 11, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 announced today workers at Zen Leaf, a Buchanan, MI retail cannabis facility, voted in favor of UFCW 951 representation on March 1, 2024.

“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,” John Cakmakci, UFCW 951 president, said. “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. Eighty-five 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,” Justin McMeans, from Zen Leaf Buchanan, said. “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,” Kelsey Rems, from Zen Leaf Buchanan, said.

The employees from Buchanan are among the tens of thousands of cannabis workers who have joined UFCW locals throughout the U.S. and Canada, thanks to 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.

   UFCW 951 is a progressive labor union representing over 28,000 workers across Michigan in a variety of industries including grocery, retail, food processing, pharmacy, and cannabis, who are employed at a variety of companies including Meijer, Kroger, Rite Aid, JBS, JLL, Sunberry Beverages, Polly’s, Harding’s, and Grandville Roasting & Packaging Plant. The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States representing over 1.3 million UFCW members nationwide and UFCW 951 is the largest private sector union in Michigan.