Cannabis retailer NETA accused of anti-union tactics

Mass reports..

New England Treatment Access said on Friday that workers at its Brookline dispensary voted 30-9 not to unionize despite months of efforts on behalf of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.

The vote comes a few weeks after UFCW said that 60 cultivation workers in Franklin signed cards to join a union, a process specific to the state’s agricultural workforce. The NLRB is in the process of validating the signed cards from workers. NETA’s manufacturing staff in Franklin have yet to vote on whether to unionize.

The union said it will appeal the Brookline decision.

Over the past two months, a slew of federal complaints have been filed by UFCW Local 1445 alleging that employees have been fired or threatened over collective-bargaining efforts at two marijuana facilities owned by NETA.

UFCW Local 1445 first filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in March to hold an election for Brookline’s 146 employees.

NETA and the union have battled over who would be eligible to join the union, and whether the voting process could occur by mail in ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a decision on May 29, a regional director for the National Labor Relations Board permitted voting by mail through July 21, and said the disputed employees — including a lot attendant, security specialist, and security lead — would be permitted to vote in the election.

In the weeks since voting commenced, union leaders say NETA management has tried to dissuade collective bargaining

“Companies do that to send a kill effect into the campaign,” said DaSilva. “People are getting fired because they are joining a union.”

In one complaint, filed with the NLRB in on June 5, UFCW alleged that 53 workers had been let go in Brookline with a preference for those who were against the union, and that discharged workers had been offered severance “on executing an agreement that restricts the rights of employees to engage in protected… activity.”

In a statement, NETA denied all of the complaints against it. “We support everyone’s right to join or not join a union, but because NETA already offers progressive wages and benefits, as well as a collaborative work environment, we don’t think a union is needed,” NETA said in a statement. “We are in the middle of a union-organizing campaign and union tactics such as filing complaints are not uncommon.”

NETA said of the Brookline vote that while there are a dozen contested ballots, they aren’t enough to change the outcome of the vote.

“We are pleased with the results and we want to thank our team for the decision that’s been made. NETA strives every day to support our employees with a collaborative work environment and progressive wages and benefits,” said Amanda Rositano, president of NETA, in a statement.

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