UFCW wins $75,000 settlement in California cannabis workers’ pay dispute

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(This story has been updated with comments from Harvest Health & Recreation.)

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) is claiming victory in a lengthy dispute with three California companies over employee wages at two cannabis shops that changed ownership hands multiple times in 2020.

California’s Local 5 of the UFCW said it reached a settlement with Have a Heart, Harvest Health & Recreation and High Times Holding. Each company at one point owned the two shops in question.

Under terms of the settlement, all three companies contributed to a $75,000 payout to employees at two Have a Heart shops – located in Oakland and Santa Cruz – to cover backpay the workers were due through their union contracts, according to the release.

The UFCW said it reached an understanding with Have a Heart in January 2020, but soon thereafter, the Seattle-based company sold the two shops to Harvest, which then sold the shops to High Times.

The union contract, which Have a Heart had agreed to, was initially rejected by both Arizona-based Harvest and California-headquartered High Times, according to the UFCW.

But the union continued to press both companies, and they eventually agreed to the $75,000 settlement, which UFCW Local 5 spokesman Jim Araby said has already been paid.

“Even though there were less than 50 workers involved, it was important to show the cannabis industry (that) even if you sell your company, if there is a union contract, you must recognize it,” Araby noted in the release.

A spokesperson for Harvest wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily that “despite the brief duration of Harvest’s involvement, we made the decision to make a minor contribution to the settlement in the interest of reaching an agreement and moving forward.”

Spokespersons for Have a Heart and High Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The UFCW currently represents about 10,000 marijuana industry workers nationwide.