Workers at a Gresham, Oregon cannabis growing operation walked off the job on Monday claiming their employer is blocking their efforts to join a union, according to an OPB report. Workers and officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 CBN Holdings have been interfering with unionization efforts involving about 20 employees who work in multiple roles at the company – from nursery to packaging – and six walked out.
Justin Brown told OPB that he was one of four workers who was fired after initiating the unionization process, which he called “very suspicious” timing.
“It was after we had signed union cards, it was after we had been talking about it. We did have some co-workers talk with at least one of our managers about it.” – Brown to OPB
CBN Holdings chief operating officer Matt Hurd said the company had just learned about the organizing efforts on Monday and denied the company was interfering with the employees’ efforts. He added that assertions that anyone was fired due to the effort “is completely false.”
“This morning’s walkout by a small group of 6 employees, was the first that any union has been mentioned,” he told OPB, “and Cannabis Nation was completely unaware of any efforts to unionize.”
Hurd said that the UFCW had not contacted national authorities to form a union on behalf of the workers.
Brown indicated that the efforts to unionize were sparked by safety concerns, including training in the handling of pesticides and the lack of fire drills. Hurd defended the company’s practices saying employees “undergo extensive and ongoing training to keep them safe in the workplace” and that the company has “an open-door policy for employee complaints.”
UFCW said the state’s legalization law failed to lay out clear rules for unionization and UFCW Local 555 Secretary-Treasurer Sandy Humphrey told OPB that has left workers “without a legal process allowing them to address unsafe working conditions, insufficient pay, and lack of access to healthcare.”
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