The newly ratified agreement marks the first collective bargaining agreement for compassion center workers in Rhode Island
PORTSMOUTH, RI – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328, the union for 11,000 Rhode Island and Massachusetts workers, announced that the budtenders, keyholders, online orderers and delivery drivers employed at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, voted unanimously to approve a first contract. The two-agreement includes:
- Immediate wage increases of up to 22% for employees with 1 year or more of service with an additional raise in the second year
- Immediate improvement in starting rates for all classifications by over $2.00 an hour with an additional increase in the second year
- Additional wage increases for recently hired employees
- Paid vacations and improved paid sick time
- Protection of bargaining unit work
- Clothing allowance
- Additional paid holidays
- Protected time and a half on Sunday
- Robust grievance procedure and workplace protections
- Newly secured opportunity to earn tips
- Ratification bonus of $1,000
Nicholas Ventetuolo, a delivery driver at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center and a member of the negotiating committee, stated after the vote, “This contract sets a tremendous precedent for cannabis workers in Rhode Island, at a time where the industry is undergoing massive changes in preparation for the introduction of recreational sales. Our contract is a powerful statement on the collective power of a united workforce. The workers at Greenleaf would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to UFCW Local 328 for their unwavering support throughout this entire process.”
Nicholas added, “It is our hope that the other compassion centers in our state will take notice of our victory and use it as a motivating factor to begin their own fight for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. We will be ready to stand with them.”
Sam Marvin, Director of Organizing at UFCW Local 328, stated, “This was a hard fought victory for Greenleaf workers. Together, they prevailed both at the labor board and at the bargaining table. By speaking up and standing together, they have raised the standards here in Rhode Island for cannabis workers. We applaud the workers at Greenleaf for their dedication and commitment to securing this historic victory.”
Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center becomes the first compassionate care center in Rhode Island to secure a labor peace agreement ahead of recreational sales beginning in December.
Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center employees voted 21 to 1 to join UFCW Local 328 in April 2021. In the following months, UFCW Local 328 filed a multitude of unfair labor practices (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board in response to illegal actions taken by the employer. Additionally, Greenleaf workers went on a one (1) day strike in June 2021 to protest the unjust termination of a co-worker.
After investigations, the NLRB determined that Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center violated workers’ rights and issued consolidated complaints against the company detailing numerous violations. Remedies by the NLRB have included back-pay totaling thousands of dollars for employees and the offer of reinstatement for the fired worker. Additional charges remain pending with further remedies expected.
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.
Locally, UFCW Local 328 currently represents employees at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, RI, dispensary workers at Curaleaf in Hanover, MA, cultivation and dispensary workers at Cresco Labs/Sunnyside in Fall River, MA, and budtenders at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, MA.