New Jersey cannabis company employees sign up with union

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Employees working at New Jersey cannabis company Verano Holdings have voted in favor of ratifying a union contract with chapters 152 and 360 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Based on a news release published by the union, Verano’s employees cast their votes in the hopes that their working rights will be recognized and protected. 

Currently, around 80 cannabis workers are employed by the licensed grower and processor, which has been striving to expand its workforce in recent times. One tactic that Verano NJ implemented in an attempt to attract new employees involved hosting a series of community job fairs.

Everyone wins when a mutually respectful, union-business relationship exists,” Local 152 representative Hugh Giordano told reporters. “This agreement extends our commitment to employees in this exciting young industry, and it will assist Verano NJ in accomplishing its goals in a way that benefits host communities.”

About the UFCW

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is a labor union that comprises 1.3 million men and women across the U.S. and Canada. Labor unions, like the UFCW, have a long history of mediating better workplace treatment and equality. 

UFCW, a 501(c)(5) nonprofit organization, believes that everyday people possess the power to enhance job security and fairness for all working people; with unionization, a cannabis company can better prove their legitimacy. The union’s primary role is to fight for better wages, more appealing schedules and additional benefits for workers.

New Frontier Data analysts predict that New Jersey which legalized cannabis with a voter-approved measure on November 3 will harvest $1 billion in sales by 2023, before climbing to $1.2 billion by 2025. Since the market is growing at an exponential rate, the news of Verano ratifying a union contract with the UFCW indicates that the industry is being taken seriously.

Union activity in growing in the cannabis sector

Unionization in the cannabis industry is becoming more apparent. As an industry that is set to reach $75 billion by 2030, there is a pressing need to safeguard cannabis industry labor from unfair treatment. 

Back in December, workers at Pennsylvania-based cannabis company CannTech signed a UFCW contract. Two months before, a cannabis union contract was signed with the same union by employees at Washington DC-based dispensary DC Holistic Wellness and Rhode Island-based Ocean State Cultivation Center.

“We’re proud to be the first 100 percent solely Black-owned, operated and financed medical cannabis dispensary in D.C. Now, we are particularly proud to be the first fully unionized cannabis shop in the District offering employees greater pay, paid time off and paid holidays, as well as retirement plans, additional accredited training and health care insurance,” the owner of DC Holistic Wellness, Norbert Pickett, told reporters following the unionization of his black-owned company.

In October, a dispute was also won by the UFCW with three California cannabis companies regarding wages. Additionally, employees at a Cresco Labs facility in Falls River, Massachusetts, recently completed the process to unionize.