Jan 17, 2020
Workers Win Significant Wage Increases and Additional Time Off
Today, Local 338 Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU)/United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), announced that the workers at Vireo Health New York have ratified a new 3-year contract. The new contract significantly builds on benefits that were included in the first contract, which was negotiated in 2016. The workers in the bargaining unit work across New York State at the cultivation and processing center, as well as four retail dispensaries.
“I am proud to have served on the negotiating committee and have the opportunity to voice the issues that were most important to my co-workers and I. Working with our union, we won many important improvements to our wages and benefits that show that we’ve not only been heard, but that we’re also valued. Knowing that we go to work every day with the protections of a strong union contract is empowering and that helps us provide the best care for our patients,” said Kassan Seisay, Local 338 member working at Vireo Health New York.
“With strong starting salaries for new hires, wage increases for current workers and increased paid time off, the new contract at Vireo Health New York sets a standard for what workers in New York’s medical cannabis industry need and deserve. Our members are dedicated to the patients they serve and provide significant service to the company they work for. Many of them were also active participants in the negotiating process and when workers come together, they can secure strong contracts that ensure fair treatment and respect on the job – which they have successfully done at Vireo,” said Joseph Fontano, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.
The Vireo Health New York contract was ratified by the members after months of negotiations and is retroactive to August of 2019.
The Vireo Health New York contract will be in effect for three years and includes critical provisions such as:
Annual wage increases over the term of the contract (workers will receive retroactive increases from the expiration of the contract in August 2019.) The hourly rate of pay for members will increase an average of 16% to 25% (based on the members job classification and years of service) over the term of the 3-year agreement.
The union also secured language in the contract that increases the minimum starting rate for new hires.
Workers will receive additional paid time off, as well as increased holiday pay.
The company will continue to provide workers and their dependents with full medical coverage through the Union’s medical fund at no cost to the workers. through the term of the contract.
Vireo Health New York workers are members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW proudly represents more than 13,000 working men and women employed at supermarkets, grocery stores, specialty food stores, assisted living facilities, retail drug stores and pharmacies, and medical cannabis companies across New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York.
Jan 16, 2020
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (right) reviews an RWDSU contract with RWDSU Local 3 members employed at Bloomingdale's in New York City in the 1960s.
This week, Americans everywhere salute the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Dr. King's legacy has special meaning.
We take special pride that, in 1968, the RWDSU was the first union anywhere to negotiate a contract guaranteeing Dr. King's birthday as a paid holiday.
The RWDSU was among the earliest supporters of Dr. King's grassroots drive to challenge racial injustice in the South.
In Chicago during the 1960s, RWDSU provided an important forum for Dr. King to speak out against poverty in America's cities. Later, thousands of RWDSU members stood shoulder to shoulder with other Civil Rights Activists during the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Dr. King saw the Civil Rights struggle and the labor movement as closely linked. He was a constant ally of Union Activists and most have forgotten that Dr. King was in Tennessee to support a Living Wage for Sanitation Strikers on that terrible April day in 1968 when he was slain at the age of 39.
Dr. King spoke about the importance of the Labor Movement on many occasions.
"Our needs are identical with Labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, and health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. That is why negroes support Labor's demands and fight laws which curb Labor. That is why the Labor-hater and the Labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth," Dr. King said in a speech in 1961.
In reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King, the RWDSU recognizes the fight he began is not over until equality for all is a reality, and it is up to our generation of RWDSU members to complete his mission.