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Massachusetts Cannabis Cultivation Workers First Union Contract at Cresco Approved, Strengthening Pay and Workplace Protections

June 22, 2021 Updated: July 21, 2021

Union for 11,000 Massachusetts & Rhode Island Workers Highlights Growing Momentum to Support Good-Paying Union Jobs in State’s Expanding Cannabis Industry

FALL RIVER, MA– Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328 (UFCW), the union for 11,000 workers in a variety of industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, announced that cannabis cultivation workers employed at Cresco/Sunnyside in Fall River, Massachusetts, voted overwhelmingly to approve their first union contract. 

The UFCW 328 agreement secures guaranteed pay increasesfair scheduling policies, offers important workplace protections and strengthens retirement benefits and employee discounts. Cresco cultivation workers will see up to an 18.7% pay increase over the next three years. This comes as the Massachusetts cannabis industry generated $81.7 million in 2020 tax revenue and is expected to continue to grow this year.

Molly Balbuena, a three-year employee of Cresco in Fall River and a member of the negotiating team, celebrated the union win with her co-workers. “I am so proud of our hardworking team at Cresco for sticking together and securing this victory. We are so excited to have secured the better future and collective voice we were looking for when we formed our union with UFCW. We urge all cannabis workers to come together and say Union Yes!”  

BACKGROUND:

When Cresco cultivation employees began organizing with UFCW Local 328, the workers wanted to address issues relating to low pay and the lack of workplace protections. Workers emphasized that they liked their jobs but wanted to have a real voice at work and a collective voice within the growing industry.  

In November 2020, the Cresco cultivation workers completed the process of joining UFCW Local 328 after the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations certified their petition, giving them the legal right to negotiate a union contract.

Cresco Labs is one of the largest multistate cannabis operators in the country and operates a cultivation and processing facility as well as Sunnyside Dispensary in Fall River.  The Cresco workers are just the latest group of workers to join the UFCW in Massachusetts. 

UFCW Local 328 is leading the push to unionize Massachusetts and Rhode Island cannabis workers. In April, 2020, workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Rhode Island unionized, voted to join Local 328.  UFCW Local 328 currently represents cultivation workers at Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island, who unanimously ratified their first union contract in October 2020. In addition, Curaleaf workers in Hanover, Massachusetts, recently voted to join UFCW Local 328. 

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UFCW Local 328 represents over 11,000 workers in a range of industries across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. As the recreational and medical cannabis industries have become mainstream across the United States, the UFCW has represented workers in cultivation and retail operations nationwide and has fought to ensure that working families have a seat at the table to secure important workplace protections and share in the gains and success of the cannabis industry. The UFCW currently is the largest representative of cannabis workers with tens of thousands of members in the industry nationwide.