Somerset, MA– Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 328, which represents 11,000 workers in a variety of industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, announced that the hardworking team of budtenders employed at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Massachusetts won their union election after voting 10 to 4 to join UFCW Local 328. The workers formed their union with a focus on gaining full-time opportunities, improving benefits, and securing important workplace protections.
Erin Bosse, a budtender at the Somerset location, stated after the win, “I am so proud of my coworkers for sticking together. We love our jobs and know that by forming our union, we will be able to build a better future for all of us here at Solar. Cannabis jobs can and should be careers and we know that when we stand together, we can make positive changes not only at our workplace but across the industry.”
Jared Botelho, another budtender at the location, added, “We are absolutely amazed to see all of the wonderful support from our fellow budtenders and are happy to say we have won our union election! We are looking forward to seeing a more bright and equitable future within the Solar Cannabis Co. community in pair with UFCW 328.
Jared continued, “This industry has the potential to provide meaningful and middle class jobs to thousands of cannabis workers across the country. This goes beyond us and our own dispensary. We hope other dispensaries continue the precedent to establish equity and contracts for their workers. We hold our company in the highest regards and look forward to our negotiations. Destigmatize, legitimize, and unionize!”
Sam Marvin, Director of Organizing at UFCW Local 328, said, “We are proud of the amazing team at Solar for sticking together throughout this election process. We look forward to taking the next steps towards negotiating a first contract that rewards the hard work and dedication they bring to the job each day.”
The workers at Solar Therapeutics join a growing movement both locally and across the country of cannabis workers coming together to ensure that workers have a collective voice in this new industry.
On Tuesday, August 17th, the budtenders employed at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, MA delivered a signed letter to CEO Edward Dow and CFO Robert Keller, requesting the company to respect their decision to form their union. After Solar Therapeutics declined to voluntarily recognize their union, the workers filed for their union election. The company proceeded to bring in an out of state consultant and held mandatory meetings with workers. However, the workers continued to stick together throughout the election process.
On September 21st, ballots were mailed to eligible voters and were returned by October 8th. On October 12th, the ballots were counted by the National Labor Relations Board, affirming the election victory with a vote of 10 to 4.
UFCW Local 328 is a leading advocate for Massachusetts and Rhode Island cannabis workers. In April 2021, workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Rhode Island unionized, after voting 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 June 2021, cultivation workers at Cresco/Sunnyside in Fall River, MA, voted to approve their first union contract. In addition, Curaleaf workers in Hanover, Massachusetts, recently voted to join UFCW Local 328.
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.