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Worker Illegally Fired from Cannabis Company for Union Involvement Wins Job Back

On December 29, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328—representing roughly 11,000 Rhode Island and Massachusetts frontline workers—announced a victory for Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center employees in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, preserving their right to openly discuss unions and other workers’ rights.

Workers in dispensaries, medical cannabis operation and other related industries want protections for their employees and fair compensation. You can find out more. Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center worker and member of the worker committee was fired last June after he was exposed while negotiating the first employee union contract.

After “months of investigations” conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), UFCW Local 328 filed charges against Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center for violating workers’ rights, culminating in the termination of employee and bargaining committee member Ben Telford. 

Additional charges include the removal of employee discounts for a period of six weeks, elimination of Friday lunch program, and the transfer of bargaining units work to another classification. The list of charges continues—including “interrogation, surveillance and disparagement of employees” for their union activity. 

Greenleaf employees held a strike for one day, as per a press release dated June 26, to protest Telford’s illegal termination. Telford was fired illegally because he had been involved in union activities. UpriseRI was there to support Telford at the Portsmouth protest. UpriseRI demanded that Telford’s CEO, Seth Bock be reinstated.

Following an investigation, each one of the charges was brought up by the NLRB against Greenleaf. Greenleaf offered to resolve every complaint within 24 hours of the scheduled trial.

“Securing justice for Ben was significant because it not only holds the company accountable for breaking the law, but it also sends a message to workers everywhere that they have rights on the job to organize,” UFCW Local 328 Director of Organizing Sam Marvin told Chronic News. “At UFCW, we are proud to stand with workers to build a better and more secured future and are committed to holding employers accountable when there are injustices at work.”

Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers echoed the sentiment. “We are pleased with the results of the investigations from the National Labor Relations Board and the signed commitments we secured in this settlement agreement,” Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers said in a joint statement. “We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the NLRB for their hard work during the investigation of numerous labor complaints that were filed against our employer. Although we shouldn’t have to endure these unjust labor practices, knowing that there was a legal recourse for us as workers when our employer made these violations was very comforting. While forming a union can be a challenging and arduous process, we know that it is one of the few options we have as workers to create a more stable and predictable future.” 

Rhode Island Greenleaf Cannabis Workers invite employees from other states and encourage them to do the same.

“We encourage workers to continue to organize with each other both within individual companies and across the industry,” the joint statement continues. “We want to thank UFCW Local 328 for all of its continued support and the resources we’ve been given through this process. We look forward to continuing to build a healthier and secured future for all of us at Greenleaf by completing our first union contract in the near future.”

UFCW Local 328 announces that it has reached a new agreement with Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, and the unionized workers involved in cannabis cultivation.

  • Employees were paid back during the six week period, but the company didn’t extend their discount to union members. 
  • Back pay for employees affected by the company’s elimination of the Friday lunch program for the past 25 weeks 
  • Reinstatement of Friday Lunch Program 
  • Employee Ben Telford was unlawfully dismissed by the company in June 2021. The company offered to reinstate him with full compensation for his wages and interest, as well as additional compensation. 
  • Protecting key stakeholders’ union bargaining units and their immediate restoration is essential. 
  • A signed commitment by the company to not interfere with employees’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, to not disparage, surveil, discipline or discharge workers for their union activity, to not create new positions to avoid collective-bargaining obligations, to not transfer work to managers or other employees because of their union activity, and a commitment to bargain in good faith with UFCW Local 328

According to the NLRB Settlement Agreement, Greenleaf offered Telford reinstatement and full compensation for any lost wages and interest. 

“We are proud of the workers at Greenleaf for standing together to achieve this victory,” Marvin stated. “It is critical that employers are held accountable when they break the law and violate workers’ rights. This settlement represents a significant achievement for Greenleaf workers in their pursuit for justice and fairness at their workplace, and we look forward to continuing to work together to build the futures they all have earned.”