Columbia Cannabis Dispensary Staff Makes History

For the first time in the District of Columbia, cannabis dispensary workers have ratified a trade union agreement with their employer, a landmark event not only for dispensary staff but also for the city’s nascent marijuana industry.
 “I am very proud to be a part of this historic moment,” said Robert Pizzi, the DC Holistic Wellness analyst, during the signing of the contract on October 21. “In many ways, this is one small step for the cannabis industry and a giant leap forward for workers around the world.”
In the face of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, 13 dispensary employees will enter into five-year contracts with three times their wages per year, one of which would include raising their hourly wages by 50 cents to $1 every six months. (They start with a base salary of $ 16 an hour.) The contract also provides for medical and retirement benefits.
Unlike many union contract negotiations, in which employees often fight hostile and unwanted bosses, DC Holistic Wellness owner Norbert Pickett actually invited his workers to unionize. According to him, about eight months ago, he reached out to Jeff Ferro of the UFCW to speed up the process. (Pickett says that by proposing unionization, he let his employees decide whether they want to unionize, and abandoned the process. The National Labor Relations Act generally prohibits employers from interfering with or participating in employee union efforts.)