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Columbia Care’s NJ Cannabist Dispensary in Deptford 1st to Unionize Nationally

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 360 announced that workers for the cannabis corporation Multi-State Operator (MSO) Columbia Care’s Cannabist NJ dispensary in Deptford voted to join them.

It’s Columbia Care’s first location to unionize successfully.

Deptford Township is in Gloucester County.

The Columbia Care Cannabist dispensary union vote had been in the works for over a year. The contract comes more than a year after Cannabist employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to support their push to unionize with UFCW.

Workers at the Cannabist dispensary voted to unionize to ensure their rights were protected and acknowledged as New Jersey’s cannabis industry evolves.

The unionization vote was noteworthy since the vote was unanimous. Raise gains that won were made retroactive to March. Thus the cannabis workers won back pay. The contract gains also address healthcare and paid federal holidays. The contract covers Dispensary Associates and Senior Dispensary Associates.

“With this unanimous contract vote, workers at Cannabist have taken a big step towards a better future for themselves and for their families,” said UFCW Local 360 President Sam Ferraino, Jr. “It’s a testament to their determination and their commitment to this industry. They deserve every congratulations.”

According to the UFCW, the push to unionize gave employees a voice. Resources from Local 360 led to the development of this first contract.

Cannabist Dispensary NJ Operations

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) recently voted to renew their adult use recreational cannabis license. But, at the time, Commissioner Krista Nash had concerns regarding their labor relations. Thus, they were only approved with the provision that they would update them on their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) progress with the UFCW.

Thus, they likely agreed to the vote to retain their New Jersey adult use cannabis sales license.

New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement and Marijuana Modernization Act (CREAMMA) implemented the 2020 referendum to legalize adult use cannabis sales. It was added to the State Constitution after securing a whopping 67 percent of the vote, far more than President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker (D) and Governor Phil Murphy (D) ever won here. The Act contains strong pro-union provisions.

“Workers are recognizing their importance and finding their voice,” UFCW Local 360 Cannabis Director Tom Donoghue argued. “The businesses in this industry that will flourish long-term are those that listen to them and deliver the working conditions they need and deserve.”

Columbia Care also has an NJ Cannabist dispensary located in Vineland in Cumberland County.

Columbia Care Corporation and Cannabis

Interestingly Columbia Care is working with Matha Figaro’s minority-owned ButACake to produce cannabis products for their Delaware dispensaries.

Columbia Care is currently operating several dispensaries in 17 state-legal cannabis markets. They bill themselves as one of the largest and most experienced cultivators, manufacturers, and providers of cannabis products.

The MSO Cresco Labs was supposed to buy Columbia Care and become the largest MSO in the nation. However, the deal has run into problems.

The UFCW is a recognized leader in organizing cannabis industry employees and is the official AFL-CIO-designated cannabis labor union.

There are other unofficial cannabis labor unions also seeking to organize cannabis workers.

PS/Full Disclosure I’m moderating a panel at the UFCW Community Mixer on Saturday August 19th!

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