California Dispensary Settles with Union for $75k in Back Pay

The United Food and Commercial Workers California chapter representing workers at Have-a-Heart dispensaries in Oakland and Santa Cruz have reached a $75,000 back pay settlement with the company for workers who originally missed out on union raises that were due January 2020.

UFCW5 had reached a contract settlement with Have-a-Heart in January of last year; however, soon after Have-a-Heart’s original owners sold their interest in the company’s California operations to Harvest Health, who in turn sold it to High Times Holding Corp. Not three months later. Both Harvest and High Times refused to recognize the January collective bargaining agreement, the union said in a press release, which led to UFCW5 filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in April 2020.

Jim Araby, UFCW5 director of strategic campaigns, said less than 50 workers were involved in the “hard-fought settlement.” He added that “it was important to show the cannabis industry, even if you sell your company, if there is a union contract you must recognize it.”

A spokesperson for Harvest told Marijuana Business Daily that the company made “a minor contribution to the settlement in the interest of reaching an agreement and moving forward.”

In October, the regional director for NLRB Region 1, which covers New England, determined that the majority of employees at a cannabis cultivation and processing facility are “agricultural laborers” under the federal National Labor Relations Act and, therefore, not subject to federal labor laws related to unionizing. The decision allows unions in Region 1 to organize workers under state rather than federal law but also permits states to deny union rights to agricultural workers if they are exempt from federal labor laws.

The UFCW represents more than 10,000 cannabis industry workers nationwide.

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