Employees at two New Jersey dispensaries joined a growing number of workers in the cannabis industry who have opted to unionize.
According to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 360, workers at Curaleaf Holding Inc.’s Edgewater Park store and those at Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus have voted to organize as members of the union, which represents hundreds of thousands of cannabis industry workers in dispensaries, labs, manufacturing, processing, delivery and grow facilities across the U.S.
In a statement, UFCW Local 360 president Sam Ferraino Jr. said, “Wherever cannabis is legalized, UFCW is committed to building a successful, responsible industry. Every vote to unionize is workers saying they want to be part of something special and they are in it for the long-haul. The most successful employers will be those that hear this message and embrace its implications.”
Curaleaf, a multistate operator headquartered in Massachusetts, operates 134 storefronts and 26 cultivation sites across 22 legal marijuana markets.
Within New Jersey, Curaleaf is licensed to sell medical and recreational cannabis at its dispensaries in Edgewater Park and Bellmawr. Its location in Bordentown is authorized to sell only medical cannabis right now, but the company has applied for permission from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission to offer adult-use products.
UFCW, an official AFL-CIO designated cannabis labor union, has been successful in unionizing cannabis workers at other Curaleaf shops, including ones in Illinois and Massachusetts.
When New Jersey launched its recreational cannabis industry earlier this year, the law included pro-labor provisions requiring companies to negotiate in good faith if their employees want union representation. In recent months, workers at some of the largest cannabis companies in New Jersey, including Ascend, The Cannabis Dispensary, Harmony Dispensary, Verano and AYR Wellness, have also organized.
In a statement, UFCW Local 360’s director of organizing Hugh Giordano said votes like the one taken by the workers at Curaleaf’s Edgewater Park store “will keep New Jersey’s cannabis economy thriving for years to come.”
“A whole new generation of workers is discovering that labor unions play a critical role in balancing the needs of employees, communities and employers, and they want in,” said Giordano. “And when we take the recent decision to pardon people convicted of ‘simple possession’ into account, it’s clear that the mission of protecting cannabis workers in their workplaces, and establishing a fair and equitable industry that supports family-sustaining jobs, is making serious progress.”
Curaleaf did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding unionization efforts at its Edgewater Park dispensary.
Harmony is currently licensed to sell only medical-use cannabis but is in the process of seeking state approval to expand into the adult-use market. It aims to open stores in Hoboken and Jersey City, as well as a new cultivation site in Lafayette.
Harmony Chief Executive Officer Shaya Brodchandel told NJBIZ, “Harmony has always believed that the men and women that come to work everyday in our dispensary deserve to have their voices heard on the job. We look forward to our future discussions with our team members and UFCW Local 360 and to making our workplaces ones that live up to our company name.”
At Harmony, the workers have demonstrated “their commitment to the promise of the cannabis industry” by making sure patients get the help they need, educating them on the benefits of medical cannabis and supporting the expansion of the industry, Giordano said in a statement.
He added, “We’ve always said that UFCW supports cannabis industry workers from seed to sale. And with a company like Harmony, that’s clearly the case. They’re already a name in medical marijuana, with their own cultivation and dispensary operations, and they’re actively looking to expand, both geographically through new stores and by entering the adult use market. It’s the right time to join with Local 360, and we’re proud that these workers came to the same conclusion.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:05 a.m. ET Oct. 26 to include information about Harmony.