United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 328, which represents 11,000 workers in a variety of industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, announced that the team of budtenders employed at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Mass., won their union election after voting, 10-4, to join UFCW Local 328. The workers formed their union with a focus on gaining full-time opportunities, improving benefits, and securing important workplace protections.
Erin Bosse, a budtender at the Somerset location, stated after the win, “I am so proud of my co-workers for sticking together. We love our jobs and know that by forming our union, we will be able to build a better future for all of us here at Solar. Cannabis jobs can and should be careers and we know that, when we stand together, we can make positive changes not only at our workplace but across the industry.”
Jared Botelho, another budtender at the location, added, “this industry has the potential to provide meaningful and middle-class jobs to thousands of cannabis workers across the country. This goes beyond us and our own dispensary. We hope other dispensaries continue the precedent to establish equity and contracts for their workers. Destigmatize, legitimize and unionize!”
Sam Marvin, Director of Organizing at UFCW Local 328, said, “we look forward to taking the next steps towards negotiating a first contract that rewards the hard work and dedication they bring to the job each day.”
The workers at Solar Therapeutics join a growing movement both locally and across the country of cannabis workers coming together to ensure that workers have a collective voice in this new industry.
On Aug. 17, the budtenders employed at Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Mass., delivered a signed letter to CEO Edward Dow and Chief Financial Officer Robert Keller, requesting the company to respect their decision to form their union. After Solar Therapeutics declined to voluntarily recognize their union, the workers filed for their union election. The company proceeded to bring in an out-of-state consultant and held mandatory meetings with workers. However, the workers continued to stick together throughout the election process.
On Sept. 21, ballots were mailed to eligible voters and were returned by Oct. 8. On Oct. 12, the ballots were counted by the National Labor Relations Board, affirming the election victory with a vote of 10-4.
UFCW Local 328 is an advocate for Massachusetts and Rhode Island cannabis workers. In April 2021, workers at Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Rhode Island unionized after voting to join Local 328. UFCW Local 328 currently represents cultivation workers at Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick, R.I., who unanimously ratified their first union contract in October 2020. In June 2021, cultivation workers at Cresco/Sunnyside in Fall River, Mass., voted to approve their first union contract. In addition, Curaleaf workers in Hanover, Mass., recently voted to join UFCW Local 328.