Rhode Island Dispensary Sues State Over Labor Peace Agreement Rule

Employees had already voted to unionize before the rule went into effect.

A longstanding Rhode Island cannabis dispensary that added adult-use sales to its medical cannabis menu filed suit against the state over a mandate that forced it to enter into a labor peace agreement with a union.

As first reported by The Boston Globe, Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center Inc. filed suit on Monday in federal court against five Rhode Island state officials, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 328, in a bid to invalidate both the labor peace agreement rule and also a collective bargaining agreement between the shop and its UFCW-organized workforce.

Greenleaf Rhode Island labor lawsuit

The suit claims Greenleaf – which was operational as a nonprofit under the state’s medical marijuana regime since 2013 – was “coerced into entering an oppressive collective bargaining agreement” when it expanding to adult-use sales. The labor peace agreement requirement was included in the 2022 Rhode Island state law that legalized recreational marijuana.

That type of rule has become somewhat commonplace in states that have legalized adult-use marijuana in the past decade; New York and California are two prominent examples that have LPA requirements.

Greenleaf argues in its lawsuit that the state rule undermined its leverage at the bargaining table with the UFCW, with which the dispensary was already in negotiations with because employees had already voted in 2021 to unionize, The Globe reported.

Among the “unfavorable” concessions won by the UFCW was a $1,000 bonus for each worker, according to the lawsuit. Other wins listed by the UFCW following the end of negotiations last August included increased wages, paid time off, paid holidays, a clothing allowance, and the ability to earn tips.

Spokespeople for the state declined to comment to The Globe, but Rhode Island activist Daniel Denvir said the lawsuit is “absurd” because Greenleaf is “objecting to a law simply because it ensures that their workers receive good wages, dignity on the job, and the protection of the union.”

UFCW attorney Marc Gursky also asserted that the suit made no sense because Greenleaf workers had voted to unionize before the law took effect, The Globe reported.

Greenleaf is asking the federal court to find the LPA requirement unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause and the National Labor Relations Act.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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