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Curaleaf Employees Protest Labor Conditions at Phoenix Dispensary

Curaleaf Protest

Employees of Curaleaf staged a protest outside one of the company's Phoenix dispensaries on Saturday 4/20, coinciding with the revered day for cannabis enthusiasts. The demonstration aimed to draw attention to the cannabis giant's recent infractions of labor laws.

Democratic lawmakers and labor advocates joined the workers at Curaleaf Camelback Dispensary on East Camelback Road near Seventh Street, advocating for improved working conditions and wages commensurate with the cost of living.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 99, representing the dispensary's workers as well as others in the region, organized the rally to spotlight the company's ongoing refusal to engage in negotiations with store employees. The dispensary's workers had voted to unionize in August 2022.

During the protest, union members delivered a letter to the store's manager, Ryan Gonsalves. Martin Hernandez, the union's director of organizing, expressed concern in the letter regarding reports from employees who alleged their pay raises were being revoked due to the unionization process. Hernandez emphasized that Curaleaf is obligated to maintain pre-unionization wage practices.

Gonsalves did not respond to requests for comment from Phoenix New Times.

The primary concern of the union is Curaleaf's failure to engage in bargaining with its employees. On Feb. 29, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Curaleaf Camelback had neglected to recognize and negotiate with the union representing its workers since Sept. 7, 2023.

Additionally, the board determined that Curaleaf had not provided the requested information to assist in collective bargaining efforts. Consequently, the company was instructed to post notices acknowledging the labor law violation for 60 days at its facilities.

Curaleaf appealed the ruling on March 11 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

According to Drake Ridge, spokesperson for UFCW 99, union negotiators have not met with Curaleaf management since the ruling, as the company has yet to acknowledge the union at its Camelback dispensary.

"Our aim is to raise awareness about working conditions in the industry and send a message to cannabis operators that workers deserve fair treatment," Drake told New Times.

He added, "It's time for companies like Curaleaf to collaborate with their employees to enhance Arizona's cannabis industry."

Curaleaf, recognized as the largest cannabis company globally by the Financial Times, stated, "We are committed to fostering a positive relationship with union leaders and Curaleaf team members." Tracy Brady, Curaleaf's senior vice president of communications and corporate marketing, emphasized the company's respect for employees' rights.

Attendees at the protest included Fred Yamashita, executive director and treasurer of the Arizona AFL-CIO, as well as Reps. Oscar De Los Santos and Junelle Cavero.

Yamashita underscored the importance of union contracts for workers and criticized Curaleaf for neglecting its employees despite their pivotal role in the company's profitability.



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