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Washington State Creates First Adult-Use Cannabis Union Contract

Washington State Creates First Adult-Use Cannabis Union Contract
PHOTO Chelsey Heil

Economics

Washington State Creates First Adult-Use Cannabis Union Contract

The first cannabis industry union has been created in Washington state between Have a Heart and UFCW.

Washington state is one of the most cannabis-friendly regions of the country. Coincidentally nicknamed The Evergreen State, medicinal cannabis has been legal since 1998 and on Nov. 3, 2012, residents voted to legalize recreational pot with Initiative 502.

Now, Washington state has again demonstrated its progressive stance when it comes to cannabis thanks to a ground-breaking agreement between the Have a Heart chain of cannabis stores and UFCW, the largest private-sector union in the state.

Have a Heart has signed the state’s first collective bargaining agreement between a union and an adult-use cannabis retailer, meaning that over 100 Have a Heart employees are now officially members of a union, granting them access to health care benefits, retirement benefits, maternal and paternal paid time off and new rights surrounding discipline and firings.

This is the first unionization of a cannabis company in the state, and one of the largest unionization expansions for any cannabis company in the country.

Through a statement, Ryan Kunkel, CEO of Have a Heart, said his company is “proud that its agreements with UFCW 21 emphasize equal pay and fair treatment in the workplace regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or cultural background.”

“At Have a Heart, we believe in ‘doing good,’” Kunkel said. “We consistently strive to have a positive impact in the neighborhoods where we do business, and we see our partnership with UFCW 21 as part of our commitment to creating a safe and empowering workplace.”

According to findings released by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), legal cannabis businesses employed more than 10,000 people in 2016. Furthermore, almost $300 million was paid in wages by legal cannabis businesses during the first two and a half years of legalization.

“This relationship is quite unusual, in a very positive sense,” Todd Crosby, UFCW 21 president, said in the statement. “It’s rare for an employer and their employees to reach a first contract so quickly and one that is so promising for current and future employees. These partnerships strengthen individuals, families and communities – and lead to superior service for customers.”

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