According to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 360, NJ Leaf recently voted to organize as members of the union, which represents hundreds of thousands of cannabis industry workers in dispensaries, labs, manufacturing, processing, delivery and grow facilities across the U.S.
In a Dec. 13 statement, UFCW Local 360’s director of organizing Hugh Giordano said, “NJ Leaf opened in March, and has proven to be a valuable member of the growing New Jersey cannabis community. Their focus on high-quality products, exceptional customer service, innovation and education matches that of UFCW Local 360, and makes this is strong partnership for the owners, employees, customers and community.”
Giordano also noted that prior to NJ Leaf’s launch, some local medicinal cannabis patients typically had to travel far to find their prescribed medication and that part of the store’s business model includes offering pharmacist consultations.
Management at NJ Leaf – which is the first dispensary in the state that is owned and operated by pharmacists – say they fully endorse the effort to unionize.
Ritesh Shah, chief executive officer, commented, “NJ Leaf is committed to our partnership with the UFCW. We want to make sure we are there every step of the way to provide a better work environment and better wages for our team.”
He went on to point out that NJ Leaf’s mission revolves around cultivating “a compassionate community while creating a safe and inclusive space” while also providing exceptional customer service.
As part of New Jersey’s launch of recreational cannabis sales in April 2022, the law included a pro-labor provision requiring companies to negotiate in good faith if employees wanted union representation.
In November, the state’s first unionized dispensary, The Cannabis Place, opened in Jersey City. The storefront also recently partnered with UFCW Local 360 to host the country’s first-ever cannabis retail pre-apprenticeship training program.
In reflecting on the past year Local 360 President Sam Ferraino Jr. said the union entered 2023 “full of determination.”
“We knew there was a great need in New Jersey’s cannabis industry for strong union leadership, and we knew that we were best placed to deliver it. And deliver it we did. That’s why welcoming NJ Leaf to the Local 360 family feels so apt. Ritesh and his team understand and embrace the ability of unions to positively impact businesses, families and communities,” he said.