The staff at Portsmouth, Rhode Island’s Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, one of the three medical marijuana dispensaries located in the state, voted last week to unionize — joining the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328.
Rhode Island Dispensary Workers Join Union
Workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center held a poll on Monday, April 5th, voting near-unanimously to unionize. Out of the store’s 40 employees, including budtenders, delivery staff, online order fillers, and managers, 22 workers elected to take part in the vote. After all was said and done, the count was 21-1 in favor of unionization.
This makes Greenleaf the first dispensary in the state to join the union and the second cannabis-related company overall after Ocean State Cultivation Center joined in October 2020. Greenleaf’s workers released a joint statement regarding their unionization, saying they’re “proud to become a part of the larger momentum being seen by workers to unionize that is taking place within the cannabis industry.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union currently represents over 1.3 million workers across the U.S. and Canada, including more than 10,000 workers in cannabis cultivation and retail. Samuel Marvin, the union’s organizer, emphasized the importance of marijuana industry workers’ move toward unionization.
“This is really important, obviously, with the expansion of legal cannabis,” said Marvin. “We want to make sure cannabis jobs are good jobs…that people can provide for their families and serve their community.”
Greenleaf Launches Anti-Union Campaign in Response
Marvin also alleged that higher-ups at Greenleaf hired consultants to hold employee trainings, attempting to persuade staff to resist unionization. While Seth Bock, CEO of Greenleaf, failed to comment on those allegations, he did highlight Greenleaf’s approach to employee relations.
“We at Greenleaf believe that the health and happiness of our employees is at the core of our success, and that fundamental premise has not changed,” said Bock to The Providence Journal. “As always, we look forward to our continued partnership with all of our valued employees – a partnership that will surely lead to continued success for all.”
While Greenleaf workers held a myriad of reasons to unionize, they stressed the importance of creating, “some form of lasting change within Greenleaf that allows for better job security and more space for [workers] to actually be heard,” as expressed in their released statement.
Rhode Island is expected to expand the physical coverage of their medical marijuana program from three stores to nine across 2021. As of now, there are no planned unionization efforts at other Rhode Island dispensaries.
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