For Immediate Release
September 8, 2016
Contact: Andrew Mangini, 518-598-6324
Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Vireo Health of New York
Announce First Cannabis Industry Labor Agreement in Empire State’s History
New York, NY – Workers at Vireo Health of New York (“Vireo”) have ratified their first union contract at the Company’s medical marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facility and its dispensaries. The agreement was negotiated by Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, UFCW, which represents all of Vireo’s employees. This ratified union contract is the first in the history of New York State’s new medical cannabis industry.
The agreement covers current and future employees at Vireo’s cultivation and manufacturing facility in Fulton County’s Tryon Technology Park, and at all four of its dispensaries located in Albany, Johnson City (Binghamton), Queens and White Plains. The contract provides a living wage with guaranteed raises, paid time off, healthcare coverage and retirement benefits.
“The strong union contract approved by the workers at Vireo will ensure that they have secure, middle class jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “The workers in this industry are incredibly dedicated to the patients they serve. This agreement provides the peace of mind that will allow them to focus on what matters most: helping those who are suffering and creating quality medicine.”
Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW also represents approximately 16,000 workers based in New York who are employed in retail drug stores and pharmacies, food and grocery retail stores, assisted living facilities and non-profit agencies that serve the developmentally disabled. Local 338 actively partnered with patients, advocates, and elected officials to help pass the Compassionate Care Act in 2014.
“This innovative agreement, based on profitability milestones, aligns business and labor interests by ensuring that our employees benefit as our Company becomes more successful. Our commitment to providing employees with fair wages and great benefits will not only help us recruit and retain the necessary talent to provide patients with high-quality products and compassionate care, but also build a profitable business,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York. “Along with the rare opportunity to build an entirely new industry, comes a unique responsibility. It is incumbent upon us to lay an economic foundation that will provide employees with the wages and benefits their families deserve and invest in ways that help local economies across New York State prosper.”
Vireo Health, LLC, the parent company of Vireo Health of New York, operates subsidiaries in Minnesota and Maryland and is the only medical cannabis company in the country to have partnered with labor in three states.
“As a socially responsible business, we believe that a unionized workforce is good for our bottom line and that this agreement will become a national model for business-labor partnerships in the medical cannabis industry,” said Kyle Kingsley, M.D., Vireo Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “As we expand into other states, we will continue to work with UFCW affiliates. We know that we can’t be a great company without great employees.”
“As someone starting a new family, it’s great to have the security and stability of a union contract,” said Matt Denten, a Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member and cultivator employed at Vireo Health of New York. “I’m proud to be working in the medical cannabis industry and know that my work is helping patients live meaningful lives. My coworkers and I all agreed that we wanted to be represented by Local 338 to make sure that we were protected as workers and had good benefits and wages.”
“I am very happy to see that Vireo and RWDSU have reached agreement on a fair contract for medical cannabis workers at Vireo’s production facility and dispensaries. We have always had two goals with the New York medical cannabis program – to provide effective medicine and relief for patients suffering from severe illnesses, and to create economic development and good paying jobs,” said Senator Diane Savino. “With the news of the contract negotiated between Vireo and RWDSU and the expansion of the medical cannabis program announced by the Department of Health last week, we have moved tremendously closer to accomplishing both of those goals. I salute Vireo and RWDSU for negotiating this contract. I hope the other four medical cannabis companies in New York will soon follow.”
“I’m pleased to stand in support of a new business venture that will help treat the symptoms of seriously ill patients,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Vireo has built a great foundation for itself by fostering a positive relationship with its employees and valuing the workers who will allow it to thrive. By partnering with Local 338, the company has set a significant precedent for other dispensaries to follow.”
“I am happy to learn of the labor agreement struck with Vireo Health of New York, Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union, United Food and Commercial Workers,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing). “Securing labor unions means those charged with helping provide relief to people with debilitating illnesses, remain a thriving part of the middle class and raise their families with pride.”
“The agreement between labor and Vireo Health of New York, the anchor tenant of the Tryon Technology Park in Johnstown, is good news,” said Jon R. Stead, Administrative Officer for Fulton County. “The agreement will allow the company to recruit great employees and grow its workforce in the region. We applaud both parties and look forward to their continued success.”