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California Cannabis Workers Stand Together for a Better Life

July 24, 2021 Updated: July 29, 2021

On June 21, workers at the March and Ash cannabis dispensary in Mission Valley, Calif., joined UFCW Local 135 for the better wages and benefits that come from being a member of our union family.

UFCW Local 135 also represents workers at March and Ash cannabis dispensaries in Vista, El Centro and City Heights. The workers at these three locations joined our union family in May and recently ratified a first union contract that raises wages and improves benefits. With four March and Ash locations now under UFCW Local 135’s jurisdiction, and two more on the horizon in San Diego’s South Bay, the current March and Ash bargaining unit is comprised of approximately 250 members.

“Cannabis workers know the benefits of being union and UFCW Local 135 is committed to making these new industry jobs into careers,” said UFCW Local 135 President Todd Walters. “We welcome the workers from March and Ash Mission Valley into our union family and look forward to servicing their needs and fulfilling the rights in their contract.”

The three-year contract for March and Ash workers in Vista, El Centro and City Heights, which was negotiated in accordance with a labor peace agreement with the employer, includes wage increases which will be at least $1 above any minimum wage requirement each year of the contract. The contract also includes health care benefits, paid vacations and holidays, jury duty days and bereavement leave, and an education and daycare fund since many of the workers are single parents. In addition, the contract includes an equity growth account and an employee benefit fund.

“We formed this contract as a model for the cannabis industry to help it grow,” said UFCW Local 135 Secretary-Treasurer Grant Tom in an interview with the Voice of San Diego. “The UFCW is the union for cannabis all the way through, from growth to sales and distribution.”

“Being part of a union would make this more into a career, rather than a job,” said Blanca Gonzalez, who is a cannabis concierge at March and Ash’s Vista location. “It’s not just a job. There is a lot that goes into working in the cannabis industry from the experience to the extensive knowledge one must have.”

“You don’t have to despise your job to want union protections or benefits,” said Russell Frost, who works as a delivery driver at the Vista location. “I think it makes March and Ash an even better employer – it’ll fix some gaps that aren’t perfect, so I think it will make this an even better job.”

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