On December 29th, Local 328 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents around 11,000 frontline workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, announced a victory for the employees of the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and upheld their right to openly discuss unions and other workers’ rights.
As in most other industries, workers in medical cannabis companies and pharmacies want worker protection and fair pay. ONE The Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center employee and works committee member was sacked last June when he was exposed while negotiating the first employee union contract.
After a “month-long investigation” conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), UFCW Local 328 brought charges against the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center for violating workers’ rights, culminating in the dismissal of employee and collective bargaining committee member Ben Telford.
Other burdens include the abolition of employee discounts for a period of six weeks, the abolition of Friday lunch and the transfer of tariff units to a new classification. The list of charges goes on – including “interrogation, surveillance and degradation of workers” for their union activities.
Greenleaf workers, in a news release on June 26, held a day-long strike to protest the illegal sacking of Telford, who was sacked for union activities. UpriseRI arrived at the protest in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, to support Telford. UpriseRI insisted that CEO Seth Bock reinstate Telford.
Following an investigation, the NLRB has filed complaints against Greenleaf on each of these allegations. Just a day before the scheduled trial, Greenleaf offered to resolve any complaint.
“Ensuring justice for Ben was important because not only does it hold the company accountable for violating the law, it also sends the message to workers everywhere that they have the right to organize in the workplace,” Sam said Marvin, Local 328 Director of Organizing at the UFCW Highest times. “At UFCW, we pride ourselves on standing with workers to build a better and safer future, and we are committed to holding employers accountable when there is injustice in the workplace.”
Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers shared the same opinion. “We are pleased with the results of the National Labor Relations Board’s investigation and the signed commitments we have made in this settlement agreement,” said Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers in a joint statement. “We would like to express our sincere thanks to the NLRB for their hard work investigating numerous work complaints that have been filed against our employer. While we shouldn’t have witnessed these unfair labor practices, it was extremely comforting to know that we as workers had a formal remedy when our employer committed these violations. While forming a union can be a challenging and arduous process, we know that it is one of the few opportunities we as workers have to create a more stable and predictable future. ”
Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers encourage employees in other states to take note of this.
“We encourage employees to continue to organize with one another, both within the individual companies and in the entire industry,” the joint statement said. “We would like to thank UFCW Local 328 for all of their continued support and resources made available to us during this process. We look forward to continuing to build a healthier and more secure future for all of us at Greenleaf by signing our first union agreement in the near future. “
UFCW Local 328 announced that the new agreement with the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center and its unionized cannabis workers includes the following key points:
- Back Pay for Employees During a Six Week Period The company has not extended its employee discount to eligible union voters
- Back payments for employees affected by the company’s cancellation of the Friday lunchtime program in the past 25 weeks
- The immediate reintroduction of the Friday lunchtime program
- The offer to reinstate Ben Telford, an employee who was unlawfully dismissed by the company in June 2021, with full arrears of wages, interest and additional compensation
- The immediate restoration and protection of the work of the unions for key stakeholders
- A signed commitment by the company not to prejudice workers’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, to denigrate, monitor, discipline or fire workers for their union activities, not to create new jobs to evade collective bargaining obligations not to delegate any work to managers or other employees because of their union activities, and an obligation to negotiate in good faith with UFCW Local 328
Under the NLRB Settlement Agreement, Greenleaf has offered Telford to resume his position and will compensate him with full back payment for any lost wages, interest and additional compensation.
“We are proud of the people at Greenleaf who stood together to achieve this victory,” said Marvin. “It is vital that employers are held accountable when they break the law and violate workers’ rights. This agreement marks a significant achievement for Greenleaf employees in their pursuit of justice and fairness in their workplace, and we look forward to continuing to work together to create the future they all deserve. “