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Cannabis Workers in Arizona Ratify a First Union Contract

July 3, 2024

On June 18, workers at Zen Leaf Local Joint and Zen Leaf Chandler cannabis dispensaries in Arizona voted to ratify their first union contract with UFCW Local 99, becoming the first cannabis industry union members in the state’s history.

The four-year contract includes guaranteed wage increases, seven paid holidays, paid time off, paid bereavement leave, a 401(k) option, seniority and qualification-based promotions, and just-cause discharge.

The ratification vote took place nearly two years after both dispensaries voted in favor of unionizing. The Zen Leaf dispensary in Chandler became the second dispensary in state history to do so in July of 2022, followed by Zen Leaf Local Joint employees in Phoenix in September of that year. UFCW Local 99 reached a tentative contract agreement with Zen Leaf’s parent company, Verano Holdings, earlier this month. Verano Holdings is a vertically integrated, multistate operator based in Chicago that owns 140 retail cannabis operations across 13 states.

“Today marks a significant milestone not just for Zen Leaf employees, but for all Arizona cannabis workers,” said UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin. “With guaranteed wage increases and seniority-based promotions, workers at Zen Leaf can finally plan for their futures and forge a career path in the industry they helped build. This goes to show that Arizona’s cannabis industry works best when workers have a seat at the table.”

“I’ve been here since before we got bought out….A lot of things have changed, and I think that’s why we started the union,” said Brianna Martinez, a cannabis advisor at Zen Leaf Chandler, who was originally hired by Territory Dispensary before its acquisition by Verano in 2021. “Corporate wasn’t really listening to us…and, you know, trying to voice those opinions, realizing that if they’re not going to listen, then starting a union, we’ll make those changes. And finally, two years later, I’m seeing that change happening in that contract….It’s a weight off our shoulders for sure.”

While workers at the two Zen Leaf locations are the first to ratify their union contract, there are seven other cannabis workplaces in Arizona where employees have voted to unionize with UFCW Local 99, including Curaleaf’s Midtown, Camelback, and Airport dispensary locations; Sunday Goods’ Tempe dispensary; Green Pharms’ Flagstaff dispensary; Kaycha Labs; and the Trulieve Magnolia cultivation facility in Phoenix.

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