By Ariel D. Cudkowicz and Adrienne Lee

Seyfarth Synopsis: Employees at a Cresco Labs cannabis cultivation facility in Massachusetts recently made an unexpected and significant decision: they chose to say goodbye to their union membership just shy of their first contract’s expiration in June 2024.

Back in November 2020, the gardeners, shift leads, and other agricultural workers at Cresco’s Fall River facility joined the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328. But fast forward to April 2024, and the tables have turned. Out of twenty unionized employees, eighteen decided they were better off without the union and chose decertification instead of negotiating a new contract. They felt that the union dues they were paying didn’t quite match up with the modest wage increases and the benefits they were getting.

Since parting ways with the union, these employees are earning more. Gardeners are making $20 per hour instead of the $19 they were getting under the union, and gardener leads are now earning $22.50 an hour, up from $21. Plus, they’re now eligible to receive Cresco stock as part of their compensation package.

This decertification is believed to be the first of its kind in the cannabis industry. It’s a bit out of the ordinary, considering the successful growth of labor organizing over the last several years in this space. It shows that the Cresco employees thoughtfully considered their relationship with their union and decided they could accomplish more by working directly with Cresco. Seyfarth will monitor this development for further updates, including the potential consequences that such a move could have on Cresco’s and other employers’ unionized cannabis workplaces.