Organized labor continues to make inroads into the cannabis industry with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announcing the first agreement with a medical marijuana cultivator in Rhode Island.
The contract between UFCW and Warwick-based Ocean State Cultivation Center provides for a “living wage,” comprehensive benefits, safe working conditions and opportunities for career advancement, according to a UFCW Local 328 news release.
A Local 328 official told the Providence Business News that the labor contract is a two-year agreement that includes language that would bring additional workers into the bargaining agreement should Ocean State win more MMJ licenses.
The UFCW-Ocean State agreement follows a labor peace agreement in 2019. Experts say labor peace agreements, which are increasingly being required in the industry, are more likely to lead to unionization of a workplace.
While much of the unionizing efforts predate the coronavirus pandemic, health risks related to COVID-19 have provided additional incentive for workers to organize.
The UFCW release indicated that Sacramento, California-based Perfect Union, characterized as Ocean State’s parent company, has been a strong partner with the union.
Amid the first coronavirus outbreak, Perfect Union started paying employees, including those in Rhode Island, a bonus of $2.50 an hour, according to a UFCW release.