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Cannabis Workers in Maryland Ratify a First Contract

September 28, 2023 Updated: October 3, 2023

Members of UFCW Local 400 who work at the Zen Leaf cannabis dispensary in Germantown, Md., recently ratified a first union contract.

The three-year contract, which was ratified unanimously, includes significant wage increases, expanded bereavement leave, holiday pay, formal grievance procedures, and other improvements.

The workers unionized with UFCW Local 400 in August 2022. Owned by Verano Holdings, a national cannabis company based in Chicago, Zen Leaf was originally a medical marijuana dispensary. Since July 1, 2023, when Maryland adult-use cannabis legalization took effect, the company also sells recreational cannabis.

“I honestly believe, as our very first union contract, we got the best deal possible right now,” said Chris Fabritz, who has worked at Zen Leaf since 2019 and was a lead organizer and member of the bargaining committee. “Plus, one of the most important things is that now, if you feel that you’re being treated wrongly, you can have someone there represent you and be there for you. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly.”

Fabritz hopes the success of Zen Leaf members spreads throughout the industry. “If you’re a cannabis worker in a dispensary – and you’re not sure what to do, or how to help you or your team, or you feel stuck – organize,” he said. “It’s never too late. This is what’s best for business. This is what’s best for you. It’s what’s best for your dispensary and what’s best for your team. Union approval ratings are through the roof right now and there’s a reason for that. So never be afraid to stand up and say something. I tell people all the time that I’ll rattle a cage or two if I have to. I rattled this cage and look at us now—we have ourselves a strong union here at Zen Leaf.”

“I want to congratulate our members at Zen Leaf for organizing and winning a strong first contract,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “They stood strong in solidarity, improved their living standards, and gained a powerful voice in the workplace. And they set a model that the rest of the Maryland cannabis industry should follow.”

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