Union for 11,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island Workers Highlights Growing Momentum to Support Good-Paying Union Jobs in New England’s Expanding Cannabis Industry
HANOVER, MA – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 328 (UFCW) , which represents 11,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island workers, announced a victory for employees at the Hanover medical cannabis dispensary of Curaleaf, the world’s largest cannabis company, voting to join UFCW Local 328. This comes as the Massachusetts cannabis industry generated $81.7 million in 2020 tax revenue and is expected to continue to grow this year.
UFCW Local 328 President Tim Melia: “It is the goal of Local 328 to forge a positive working relationship with Curaleaf in an effort to expand their business while at the same time assuring the employees receive an equitable contract which provides for their wages, hours and working conditions.”
Samuel Cortezano, a long-time employee of the Hanover Curaleaf dispensary: “This is an amazing accomplishment and we are excited to move forward to obtain fair wages and benefits for the hard-working employees at Curaleaf Hanover.”
In March 2020, Curaleaf employees began organizing with UFCW Local 328 as the Covid-19 pandemic was starting to impact workers across the country. The workers wanted to address issues related to the pandemic as well as other issues such as low pay and unfair discipline. Workers emphasized that they liked their jobs but wanted to have a real voice at work.
In April 2020, the Curaleaf workers filed for their union election, and voted by mail throughout the months of May and June 2020. On June 26, 2020, a majority of workers voted to join UFCW Local 328, but there were enough “challenged” ballots that the results couldn’t be finalized.
A federal investigation and hearing by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) examined the circumstances of the challenged ballots, and the Boston Regional office of the NLRB determined that 6 ballots should not be counted and that 4 should be opened. Curaleaf appealed this decision to the NLRB in Washington, DC, who sided with the workers voting to unionize with UFCW Local 328.
Today, nearly a year after the workers’ campaign started, the final 4 ballots were counted. The final results were 8-3, in favor of workers unionizing. This election comes as other cannabis workers across Massachusetts continue to form their union with the UFCW. This is the first worker victory for Curaleaf in Massachusetts, where the company is based. Workers at Curaleaf Hanover will now begin the process of negotiating a contract.
UFCW Local 328 is leading the push to unionize Massachusetts and Rhode Island cannabis workers. Earlier this week workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Rhode Island unionized, voting to join Local 328. UFCW Local 328 currently represents cultivation workers at Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island, who unanimously ratified their first union contract in October 2020. UFCW Local 328 is also negotiating a contract with the cultivation workers at Cresco in Fall River, Massachusetts.
UFCW Local 328 represents over 11,000 workers in a range of industries across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. As the recreational and medical cannabis industries have become mainstream across the United States, the UFCW has represented workers in cultivation and retail operations nationwide and has fought to ensure that working families have a seat at the table to secure important workplace protections and share in the gains and success of the cannabis industry. The UFCW currently is the largest representative of cannabis workers with tens of thousands of members in the industry nationwide.