Rhode Island Dispensary Sues Over Labor-Peace Requirements for Cannabis Licenses

Rhode Island dispensary Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center has filed a lawsuit over labor peace agreement provisions in the state’s cannabis legalization law, arguing it was “coerced into entering an oppressive collective bargaining agreement.”

Full story after the jump.

A Rhode Island cannabis dispensary has filed a lawsuit over labor peace agreement provisions in the state’s cannabis legalization law, the Boston Globe reports. Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center argues that it was “coerced into entering an oppressive collective bargaining agreement” because of the 2022 law. 

The law included requirements that licensed cannabis dispensaries in the state enter into “labor peace agreements” with a “bona fide labor organization” even if the business existed prior to the law’s passage. Greenleaf has been a licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state since 2013. 

In the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, Greenleaf argues that the business had “little bargaining leverage” with its workers, who voted in 2021 to organize under the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328. The workers had initially voted to unionize in 2021, prior to the legalization law taking effect, but negotiations were ongoing when the legalization law passed in May of 2022, the report says. 

In an email to the Globe, Greenleaf CEO Seth Bock said that while labor negotiations were underway, the company realized they had lost all of their bargaining power with the passage of the adult-use law and its labor-peace provisions. 

In an interview with the Globe, Marc Gursky, the attorney for the UFCW Local, disputed the premise of Greenleaf’s lawsuit, noting the previous negotiations.   

“A labor peace agreement is about access, so that a union has a fair chance of organizing a workplace in exchange for giving up a right to strike. Greenleaf never entered into a labor peace agreement.” — Gursky to the Globe 

State Rep. Scott Slater (D), who sponsored the cannabis law, said unions and activists had lobbied for the labor agreement provisions and that the groups also successfully pushed for some cannabis licenses to be reserved for worker co-operatives. 

The suit names the state, all of the members of the R.I. Cannabis Commission, and UFCW Local 328 as defendants. 

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