Workers at Two Arizona Dispensaries Become First in the State to Ratify Union Contracts

Dispensary workers at two Arizona cannabis stores, Zen Leaf Local Joint in Phoenix and the Zen Leaf in Chandler, voted on Tuesday to ratify union contracts with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 99.

Full story after the jump.

Workers at Zen Leaf Local Joint in Phoenix, Arizona and Zen Leaf in Chandler on Tuesday ratified their union contracts, becoming the first cannabis industry workers in the state to unionize. The ratification vote came nearly two years after workers at both dispensaries voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 99.    

The four-year contract agreement ratified by Zen Leaf workers includes guaranteed wage increases, seven paid holidays, paid time off, paid bereavement leave, a 401K option, seniority and qualification-based promotions, and just-cause discharge. 

Zen Leaf is owned by Verano Holdings, a Chicago, Illinois-based vertically integrated, multistate operator that owns 140 retail cannabis operations across 13 states, according to the company’s website. Five Verano-owned retail cannabis locations have organized with UFCW nationwide, the union said in a press release.  

In a statement, UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin, called the ratification vote “a significant milestone not just for Zen Leaf employees, but for all Arizona cannabis workers.”  

“With guaranteed wage increases and seniority-based promotions, workers at Zen Leaf can finally plan for their futures and forge a career path in the industry they helped build. This goes to show that Arizona’s cannabis industry works best when workers have a seat at the table.” — McLaughlin in a press release 

Brianna Martinez, a cannabis advisor at Zen Leaf Chandler who was originally hired by Territory Dispensary prior to Verano acquiring the business in 2021, said that following Verano’s takeover “corporate wasn’t listening” to the workers.  

“…And, you know, trying to voice those opinions, realizing that if they’re not going to listen, then starting a union, we’ll make those changes,” Martinez said in a statement. “And finally, two years later, I’m seeing that change happening in that contract… It’s a weight off our shoulders for sure.”  

While the Zen Leaf workers are the first in the state to ratify their contracts, there are seven other cannabis workplaces in Arizona where employees have voted to unionize, including Curaleaf’s Midtown, Camelback, and Airport dispensaries, along with Sunday Goods’ Tempe dispensary, Green Pharms’ Flagstaff dispensary, Kaycha Labs, and the Trulieve Magnolia cultivation facility in Phoenix.   

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