A national union wants to be the first in the country to represent cannabis workers and it may happen in Nanaimo.

“This would be the first one in Canada so this is very important to us,” said Shane Dawson, Director of Organizing for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Earlier this year, the UFCW says they got a call from a worker concerned about their job security.

Soon the union was signing up members.

BC’s Labour Relations Board oversaw a certification vote in mid-October and the union wasn’t expecting so many employees would cast a ballot.

“We were expecting anywhere from 120 to 130 people to come and vote but at the end of the day, over 200 people come to vote. It was a little bit of a surprise, to say the least,” said Dawson.

Tilray says it has nearly 260 workers in Nanaimo.

The union says the company bused in employees from its Fourth Street call centre to vote but the union only planned to certify cultivation workers.

Both sides have sent written submissions to the Labour Relations Board. It will have to decide which employees ballots should count.

“If we happen to get the results of this vote next week and it’s not in the UFCW’s favour or the members’ favour I will be back again and if I get the second vote is not in my favour I will be back again,” said Dawson

In a statement, a Tilray spokesperson says “while we believe a direct two-way relationship between the Company and our employees is best for the Tilray team in Nanaimo, we respect it is the employees’ right to choose if they want to have a union…”

The union says many of the employees are afraid during this process but they will be better protected if their attempt to certify is successful.

Kendall Hanson