September 19, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Workers at the Vireo Health chain of dispensaries ratified the first union contract in New York State’s medical-cannabis program, the company and Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union announced Sept. 8.
The deal covers employees at Vireo’s dispensaries in Queens, White Plains, Albany, and Johnson City, plus those at its cultivation and extract-preparation facility in Fulton County, northwest of Albany. It includes guaranteed raises, paid time off, health-care coverage, and retirement benefits. “The strong union contract approved by the workers at Vireo will ensure that they have secure, middle-class jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” Local 338 President John R. Durso said in a statement. Vireo said that “the rare opportunity to build an entirely new industry” comes with the “unique responsibility” to provide good wages and benefits, and that it believes “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.” Its facilities in Minnesota and Maryland are also unionized. “I hope the other four medical-cannabis companies in New York will soon follow,” said State Sen. Diane Savino (D/IDC-Staten Island), lead Senate sponsor of the state’s 2014 medical-marijuana law, which requires providers not to interfere with union organizing by their employees. Read more