4/20 protest fails to break labor deadlock at Arizona Curaleaf marijuana store

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Unionized workers at a Curaleaf Holdings marijuana store in Arizona remain without a contract despite a brief 4/20 protest on Saturday.

The demonstration at the company’s Camelback and Midtown locations in Phoenix by United Food and Commercial Workers-represented workers drew supportive local elected officials but has so far failed to break a yearslong impasse.

According to the Arizona Republic, about two dozen workers picketed for two hours in 90-degree temperatures outside the Camelback location on 4/20, the busiest day of the year for marijuana retailers.

‘Not asking for the moon’

“They’re not asking for the moon,” said Democratic state Rep. Oscar De Los Santos, one of two state representatives to appear in support of UFCW Local 99, the newspaper reported.

A recent National Labor Relations Board ruling found that New York-based multistate operator Curaleaf “refused and neglected” to recognize the union and work on a contract, according to the Republic.

The company has appealed the ruling in federal court, MJBizDaily reported last week.

The workers also delivered a letter to on-site management Saturday that accused the company of canceling a scheduled wage increase.

The company claimed it could not increase pay during contract negotiations, an allegation the union says is “misinformation,” the newspaper reported.

Impasse continues

In a statement last week, a Curaleaf spokesperson said the company is “focused on creating a collaborative culture that allows our team to feel heard, supported and respected” but did not address the question of contract negotiations.

The Saturday protest at the Camelback location followed a one-day strike at the Midtown location last September in which Curaleaf called police on picketers, union organizers said.

At that time, the company said it would “negotiate with union leaders in good faith.”

Such talks have yet to happen, leading one Curaleaf employee to speculate the company is deliberately retaliating against the union to avoid negotiations altogether, the Republic reported.

“I think they’re getting more aggressive in order to shake up the workforce and try to get the strong voices and the leaders out of the workforce, so that when they finally sit at the table with us, we have a much lower chance of getting a contract we deserve,” Curaleaf staffer Nicholas Frederickson told the newspaper.