With agreement, Ocean State Cultivation Center becomes R.I.’s first unionized cannabis business

TED GRILLO, left, and Matthew Baryshyan are two cultivation workers at the Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328 and Ocean State Cultivation Management jointly announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a contract that will make the cultivation center the state’s first unionized cannabis business./COURTESY OCEAN STATE CULTIVATION CENTER
TED GRILLO, left, and Matthew Baryshyan are two cultivation workers at the Ocean State Cultivation Center in Warwick. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328 and Ocean State Cultivation Management jointly announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a contract that will make the cultivation center the state’s first unionized cannabis business. / COURTESY OCEAN STATE CULTIVATION CENTER

PROVIDENCE – The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328 and Ocean State Cultivation Management jointly announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a contract that will make the Warwick-based cultivation center the state’s first unionized cannabis business.

Local 328 said the contract comes after months of negotiations and will guarantee a living wage, comprehensive benefits, opportunities for employees to advance their careers and providing safe working conditions for employees at the cultivation center.

Ocean State Cultivation Center provides cannabis products for compassion centers located in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth and serves more than 18,000 registered medical marijuana patients.

Sacramento, Calif.-based Perfect Union is partnering with Local 328 and the cultivation center to ensure employees “will be treated fairly and equitably, allowing us to better serve the community around us,” said David Spradlin, CEO of Perfect Union, in a statement.

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Tom Hutchinson, executive assistant to Local 328 President Tim Melia, told Providence Business News Tuesday that the contract is for two years and it includes language that dictates that if new medical marijuana licenses are distributed by the state, they would fold into the contract between Local 328 and the cultivation center. Hutchinson said there are currently six licenses to be distributed.

“We have our fingers crossed that a good employer gets one,” Hutchinson said, also noting that there are currently four employees now unionized at the cultivation center.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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