UFCW celebrates triumph in $75,000 cannabis workers’ pay dispute settlement

UFCW celebrates triumph in $75,000 cannabis workers' pay dispute settlement

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A tedious dispute between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and three California cannabis companies has been settled in favor of the labor union. Each of the three involved companies Have a Heart, Harvest Health & Recreation and High Times Holding have been ordered to pay a $75,000 payout to employees at two Oakland and Santa Cruz-based Have a Heart stores. 

Since being founded in 2011, Have a Heart has expanded to more than 10 licensed dispensaries spread across three U.S. states. The two shops in question were owned by each company at some stage, according to the debate. However, ownership changed on numerous occasions last year.

“Despite the brief duration of Harvest’s involvement, we made the decision to make a minor contribution to the settlement in the interest of reaching an agreement and moving forward,” a Harvest spokesperson told MJBiz Daily reporters in an email. Comment requests were disregarded by Have a Heart and High Times spokespersons.

Cannabis shop workers were due payment through their union contracts

The release that confirmed the UFCW’s settlement with Have a Heart, Harvest Health & Recreation and High Times Holding also revealed how The UFCW had initially come to an understanding with Seattle-based Have a Heart in January 2020. However, shortly after, the company auctioned off both shops to Harvest, before High Times snapped them up.

According to the UFCW, the union contract was refused by Arizona-based Harvest and California-headquartered High Times; despite being accepted by Have a Heart. After being urged by the union to consent to the contract, both cannabis companies agreed to contribute to the $75,000 settlement.

“Even though there were less than 50 workers involved, it was important to show the cannabis industry that even if you sell your company, if there is a union contract, you must recognize it,” UFCW Local 5 spokesman Jim Araby said in a news release, which was published by MJBiz Daily.

Araby claims that the $75,000 payout has already been funded to the cannabis employees. 

What is a UFCW “union contract”?

The UFCW represents around 1.3 million workers in the United States and Canada; including employees working in the manufacturing, retail food processing, agriculture, textile, healthcare, chemical, security and cannabis trades

Typically, a “union contract” pertains to the official rules that the union and the employer have agreed to. In most cases, a contract of this kind will cover things like wages, raises, health care, retirement benefits, discipline and job termination. However, a union contract may also extend to cover rules relating to LGBTQ workers’ rights, religious beliefs, etc.

Approximately 10,000 of the UFCW’s represented nationwide workers are involved in the cannabis industry. Of those cannabis industry workers, UFCW members specialize in various avenues of the sector, including cultivation, manufacturing, processing, laboratories and dispensaries.