New York medical marijuana company claims first labor pact

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Medical marijuana producer Vireo Health has signed what it claims is the first agreement with organized labor in New York State.

According to the Daily Gazette, Vireo, which holds cannabis business licenses in New York, Maryland and Minnesota, has entered into an agreement with Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The union will represent all of Vireo’s current New York workers, and covers all future employees as well.

Vireo has dispensaries in Albany, Johnson City, Queens and White Plains, and claims to be the only marijuana company to have “partnered with labor in three states,” the paper reported.

Kyle Kingsley, Vireo’s CEO, said in a statement, “We believe that a unionized workforce is good for our bottom line and that this agreement will become a national model for business-labor partnerships in the medical cannabis industry.”

Under New York law, all five MMJ licensees must have entered into labor peace agreements prior to having been licensed, but Vireo’s deal with the union may be the first time workers at a New York cannabis company have been formally organized.

The law, which is focused on preventing strikes, further reads, “The maintenance of such a labor peace agreement shall be an ongoing material condition of certification,” and a New York MMJ licensee can even lose its permit if state officials find that a business has violated its labor peace agreement.