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First California Cannabis Workers to Unionize at Manufacturer and Lab Announce Historic Win as State Industry Grows

June 21, 2021

UFCW Cannabis worker

Union for 30,000 Bay Area Frontline Food and Retail Workers  Has Now Unionized Over 500 Cannabis Workers Across the Region

HAYWARD, CA — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 5, which represents 30,000 food and retail workers across the San Francisco Bay Area, announced the first-ever agreements to unionize California workers at a cannabis manufacturer and a cannabis lab. The agreements are between UFCW and each of the companiesCannaCraft Manufacturing and Sonoma Lab WorksAdditionally, UFCW Local 5 ratified the first union contract for Sonoma Lab Workers employees earlier this week. Both these victories set a precedent for even more cannabis workers to unionize in California and across the country.

UFCW Local 5 President John Nunes:

“We are excited about these cannabis organizing victories and we feel that CannaCraft Manufacturing, Sonoma Lab Works, the customers, and the workers will all be better off with these agreements. Currently, we are working on three promising cannabis organizing campaigns and are looking forward to continuing to help more workers in the industry win a union.”

With this cannabis worker union win in the Bay Area, UFCW Local 5 will represent workers at both CannaCraft Manufacturing and Sonoma Lab Works, each located in Santa Rosa, California. In addition to these victories, UFCW Local 5 has been a leading advocate for Bay Area cannabis workers and with key victories at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the union has helped strengthen the rights and protections of cannabis workers nationwide.

BACKGROUND

UFCW is America’s largest cannabis workers union, representing over 10,000 cannabis workers across the country. As states and cities continue to embrace the good-paying jobs that the cannabis industry can create, many more cannabis workers are unionizing with UFCW

UFCW Local 5 has been a leading voice for California cannabis workers and has won key victories for workers across the industry in recent NLRB cases:

  • GrupoFlor Cannabis
    • On June 4, 2021, UFCW Local 5 secured $60,000 in back pay and reinstatement of laid off cannabis workers at the company in an NLRB ruling on the company’s actions to lay off all its union workers in November 2020. The NLRB ruling has also mandated the company recognize UFCW Local 5 as the union for these employees.
  • Urbn Leaf Cannabis Dispensary
    • In October 2019, San Jose cannabis workers with the company won a union election. The company appealed the union election outcome to the NLRB, but the union victory was upheld and Urbn Leaf cannabis workers are now represented by UFCW Local 5, with the union now working with the company to negotiate the employees’ first union contract.
  • Vallejo Health Holistics (VHHC)
    • In January 2021, the company attempted to strip its cannabis dispensary workers of their union recognition with UFCW Local 5. This came nearly 10 years after the cannabis workers first unionized in 2012. 
    • On May 27, 2021, the NLRB ruled in favor of UFCW Local 5, which filed unfair labor practices (ULP) charges, and found that the employer illegally withdrew recognition from the union and the company must now recognize the union and bargain in good faith. 
    • UFCW Local 5 is currently in bargaining on a union contract for these cannabis workers. Additionally, the NLRB is also considering pending charges filed by UFCW Local 5 stating the company illegally fired two union supporters.
  • Urbana Cannabis Dispensary
    • In January 2021, the company fired pro-union workers with the UFCW Local 5 organizing committee. San Francisco cannabis workers at the company had been organizing since May of 2020. UFCW Local 5 filed charges with the NLRB and the board issued a complaint and a preliminary 10(J) injunction, which would require the employer to reinstate the worker with back pay. 

UFCW cannabis worker victories have been secured at a wide range of companies across the industry, including at Nature’s Root Labs in Colorado, Union Harvest in Florida,  Windy City Cannabis in IllinoisSira Naturals in MassachusettsPerfect Union in CaliforniaCuraleaf in Rhode IslandOHM Grow/Pure Fire Dispensary in ColoradoSunnyside (Cresco Labs) in New YorkGarden State Dispensary in New JerseyVireo Health in Maryland, and DC Holistic Wellness in Washington, D.C.

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UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org