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Cannabis Workers Vote to Ratify First Union Contract

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Employees of March and Ash in San Diego and Imperial Valley Ratify CollectiveBargaining Agreement Between UFCW Local 135 and March and Ash

Cannabis workers at March and Ash locations in San Diego and Imperial Counties voted on May 12, 2021 to ratify their first-ever union contract, and the first cannabis industry union contract originating in these two counties. The locations include retail outlets in the City Heights community of San Diego, the City of Vista, and the City of Imperial. The City Heights and City of Imperial locations offer recreational cannabis products, while the Vista location is medicinal only.

Collective Bargaining came to a conclusion after two years of organizing and negotiating among UFCW Local 135 and the ownership group of March and Ash. Although the pandemic presented delays and hurdles, the parties made the decision in late 2020 to continue to work in earnest to develop a framework that worked for the local industry and its employees.

UFCW Local 135 appreciates the good faith negotiations and commitments made by March and Ash through the creation of this partnership, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement created by the parties that benefits both UFCW’s members and employees of March and Ash. This honest and cooperative approach between labor and industry enhances the value to all parties, delivering an outcome with the best interests of the workers in mind.

We believe this contract sets the gold standard in the unionized cannabis industry and will be used as a model in future negotiations with companies whose employees choose to go union.

“This contract will create career jobs and promote an industry setting standard that is needed to ensure that cannabis workers are accepted and valued. This industry-leading contract will create a new model for March and Ash employees, and other members of the industry, by providing training, educational opportunities, childcare and more. We are proud of the work effort put in, and are honored to have delivered a contract worthy of these cannabis workers.” – Todd Walters, President UFCW Local 135

“Early on we were asked to join labor agreements that originated elsewhere. That did not interest us. This is a new industry with radically different approaches between municipalities, and we are closely held. Our partners live in San Diego and Imperial Counties. We are not a publicly-listed company based in another country, or an online delivery service. It was important to us that we broke apart old models and crafted something that worked for our company, our staff and the communities we serve; proving that we can uphold and support the places we live by delivering a contract that is rooted in our workforce and local economy. We took the time to understand what it is our employees need and want. Healthcare benefits, subsidized childcare in an industry with many young single or co-parent arrangements, and participation in the upside, so that being a part of our company is a career one would be proud of. That is what we found to be most important to our employees. We then worked with our partners at the UFCW to take that risk in doing something different and new. I think that was an extraordinary act of good faith, and it makes me personally happy that we did that here in San Diego. We approach how we operate on the basis of respecting the benefits and the risks of cannabis. The March and Ash responsible adult use model is rooted in respect for the community, including the people who did not vote to legalize cannabis. We’re well aware that we can only deliver on that promise through our employees.” – Breton Peace, General Counsel, March and Ash

UFCW Local 135 recognizes the high standards that this contract represents and looks forward to working with March and Ash to fulfill the promises made within. Though the process was long, the results are well worth the wait.

With three of March and Ash’s locations unionized, UFCW Local 135 now has three cannabis companies with a total of six locations under our jurisdiction. As the industry continues to grow, UFCW Local 135 will continue to talk with cannabis workers about their right to organize to better their living conditions and workplace environment.


United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135, has a membership of approximately 13,000 workers and nearly 7000 retirees throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. They consist of workers in various fields including grocery & retail, health, pharmacy & dental, meat & sugar processing, casino, and cannabis.


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  • Published: 3 years ago on May 18, 2021
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  • Last Modified: May 18, 2021 @ 12:14 am
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