MAYS LANDING, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 152, based in Mays Landing, has filed labor charges against the Compassionate Care Foundation, operator of a medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township.
In its complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, the union alleges Compassionate Care engaged in illegal activities to silence dispensary workers who were trying to join UFCW Local 152.
According to the complaint, a majority of the workers at the facility declared last November that they wanted Local 152 to represent them, but the facility’s board of directors refused to recognize the union.
“The leadership of Compassionate Care Foundation, headed by Chairman of the Board Dave Knowlton, has pulled out all the stops to prevent its workers from exercising their right to join a union,” UFCW Local 152 President Brian String said.
“These efforts are particularly troubling since Mr. Knowlton purports himself to be a worker-friendly, pro-union individual, but in this case his actions speak louder than words,” he said.
String said Knowlton has used “tricks from the usual anti-union play book” to deny union protection for the workers. These tactics included reclassifying employees as “supervisors” or “agricultural workers” who are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act.
The employer also punished pro-union workers by reducing their hours and withholding their pay, the union charges.
A petition for representation was filed with the NLRB and a hearing will be held on Feb. 4. It will mark the first time the board has addressed a case involving the medical marijuana industry. The board will decide if it will attempt to exercise jurisdiction over an industry that is still federally illegal.
Other UFCW locals, primarily in the West, have had success in organizing workers in the burgeoning medical marijuana business.
UFCW Local 152 represents more than 14,000 members in several industries, including grocery and manufacturing, across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers in the United States and Canada.