Rhode Island cannabis workers voted to become unionized and joined the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 328 (UFCW), which represents 11,000 Rhode Island and Massachusetts workers. The employees at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth became the first Rhode Island cannabis dispensary workers to unionize. Rhode Island is only legal for medical cannabis at this time.
Greenleaf Cannabis Workers in Portsmouth released a joint statement saying, “We hope that through demonstrating our continued commitment to one another in organizing as workers that we can create some form of lasting change within Greenleaf that allows for better job security and more space for us to actually be heard. We are proud to become a part of the larger momentum being seen by workers to unionize that is taking place within the cannabis industry.”
The newly unionized Rhode Island Greenleaf cannabis workers include budtenders, keyholders, online team members, and delivery associates. The union said in a statement that despite the company’s attempts to fight unionization, like hiring out-of-state anti-union consultants, the workers at Greenleaf still voted to form a union. The group cited several reasons why they decided to vote in favor of becoming a union.
Some of the reasons are as follows:
Greenleaf’s sudden elimination of the employee incentive program
Significant reduction of employee benefits
Employee’s lack of power in decision-making
Management’s failure to listen to employee concerns brought to ownership
The goal of equitable future in rapidly growing Rhode Island cannabis industry
The Rhode Island cannabis industry is projected to generate $1.7 million in tax revenue in the 2022 fiscal year, and is set to bring in $16.9 million in 2023 tax revenue.
UFCW Local 328 Director of Organizing, Sam Marvin: “We are so proud of the incredible team at Greenleaf for sticking together. Each day, they provide value to their patients and our communities. We look forward to partnering with them towards building the better future they all have earned.”
Reclaim RI released the following statement: “Reclaim RI believes that worker justice should be at the center of the legalization process. Workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively are key elements of that vision. We support the Greenleaf workers in their organizing efforts and urge them to vote yes for union representation and a voice at work!”
Greenleaf has now become the second unionized cannabis business in Rhode Island and the first compassion center. 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. As Rhode Island is set to move forward with expanding the medical marijuana program with six new compassion centers and looks further at legalizing adult recreational use, the efforts of Greenleaf workers and UFCW Local 328 should serve as an example of how to guarantee equity and opportunity for workers in this field.