UFCW Local 328 News

Cannabis Workers at RISE Dispensary in Warwick, RI Vote Union Yes, Join UFCW Local 328

Personal Care Specialists at the Warwick, RI dispensary voted 50 – 6 to join UFCW Local 328

Warwick, RI – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 328, which represents 11,000 workers in a variety of industries in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, announced that the hardworking team of PCS’s (Personal Care Specialist) employed at RISE Dispensary in Warwick, Rhode Island, won their union election after voting overwhelmingly 50 to 6 to join UFCW Local 328. The workers formed their union with a focus on gaining higher wages, improving benefits, and securing important workplace protections.

Workers at RISE started to organize with UFCW Local 328 in May of 2023 they wanted to address issues that arose after Green Thumb Industries (GTI) acquired the former Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, RI, in the summer of 2021. On Monday, June 12th, 2023, the workers delivered a letter signed by 50 PCS’s notifying management that they were requesting the company to voluntarily recognize their union, and simultaneously filed for their union election. After the company declined to voluntarily recognize, they proceeded to meet with workers to attempt to persuade them not to unionize.

Green Thumb Industries, a multiple-state operator founded in 2014, is currently the third-largest cannabis company in the United States by revenue. They are headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and have operations in Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and other states. Their dispensaries carry a variety of brand names, including Rise, Essence, and The Clinic.

This election comes as other cannabis workers employed by Green Thumb Industries throughout the country continue to form their unions. RISE becomes the third cannabis company in Rhode Island to unionize. Ocean State Cultivation Center, a cultivation facility in Warwick, RI, joined UFCW Local 328 in 2020. In 2021, budtenders, keyholders and delivery drivers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center voted 21 to 1 to join UFCW Local 328 and ratified their first contract in August 2022. Workers at RISE Dispensary in Warwick, RI, will now begin the process of negotiating their first contract.

Bruce Botelho, a PCS at the Warwick, Rhode Island location, stated after the win, “It was made clear to us, through word and deed, that management was struggling to balance our needs with corporate demands. We chose to organize and take that burden off their hands in an attempt to improve working conditions for everyone at Rise Warwick.”

Helen Saad, another PCS said “We are proud to have proven that we stand in solidarity and commitment with each other in our effort to create lasting and positive changes to our conditions and experiences as RISE Cannabis Workers. This is why we have chosen to unionize and join in this massive positive movement that so many workers within the cannabis industry have already united in.” 

PCS Daid Falk, added “While our passion our passion for cannabis and our jobs are unmatched, we believe partnering with the UFCW will help our voices be heard as well as enriching the experience for both worker and consumer”

Mike Santos, Director of Organizing with UFCW Local 328, said, “We are proud of these workers for sticking together and securing such a huge victory. The show of strength and solidarity by these workers is beyond inspiring. We look forward to taking the next steps toward negotiating a first contract that rewards the hard work and dedication these workers deserve.”

The workers at RISE Dispensary 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.

UFCW Local 328 is a leading advocate for Massachusetts and Rhode Island cannabis workers. UFCW Local 328 has agreements with retail and cultivation workers at Cresco/Sunnyside in Fall River, Massachusetts, with workers at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Massachusetts, workers at Curaleaf in Hanover, Massachusetts, workers at Nature’s Medicines in East Wareham, Massachusetts, workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and with cultivation workers at Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island. Additionally UFCW Local 328 is a proud member of the Rhode Island Cannabis Justice Coalition, which is committed to building an equitable and just cannabis industry in Rhode Island.