Cannabis Workers at Ascend Montclair Dispensary Ratify First-Ever Union Contract, Negotiated by CEED Local 420, IUJAT

(Montclair, NJ) – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Cannabis Engineers Extractors & Distributors (CEED) Local 420, IUJAT today announced that workers at Ascend Montclair Dispensary, referred to as “budtenders,” have achieved a first-time event, the ratification of a three-year labor agreement. This is the first time in history that workers at Ascend will be protected by a union contract. The bargaining unit covers approximately 22 employees who work at the company’s medical cannabis dispensary unit in Essex County, New Jersey.

The Ascend Montclair Dispensary contract was ratified by the members of Local 420 after months of negotiations. CEED Local 420, International Union of Journeymen of Allied Trades (IUJAT), was established solely to represent cannabis workers in New Jersey. IUJAT is the among the oldest labor unions in the United States dating back to 1874, nearly a decade before the formation of the American Federation of Labor.

The contract will be in effect for three years and includes critical wage and benefits enhancements, including:

– Three annual three percent wage increases and when compounded, are valued at 9.27% over the life of the contract.
– Access to a more comprehensive healthcare plan that significantly decreases copays and deductibles, without an increase in overall costs.
– A contract wage re-opener contingent on Ascend being awarded any future license for recreational cannabis operations.
– Workers will earn more paid time-off based on a new seniority schedule.
– Budtenders now have a say in their workplace conditions under the terms of their union contract. Ascend workers become just cause employees with access to a grievance procedure and regular contract negotiations.

Connor Shaw, Business Agent and Legislative Director of IUJAT said, “CEED Local 420 members are dedicated to ensuring New Jersey’s medical cannabis patients can access safe and quality products. Our budtenders contribute greatly to Ascend’s success and were with us every step of the way at the negotiating table. With annual wage increases, a contract re-opener, and significantly improved benefits for workers and their families, this contract will set a standard not just at Ascend but also for New Jersey’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry. It is crucial that workers in the fast-growing cannabis industry are afforded the protections and benefits of a labor contract and have a say in their work place conditions.”

New Jersey State Senate President Nicholas Scutari said, “I would like to congratulate the employees of Ascend Montclair Dispensary who have chosen to take the step forward as a union represented and protected shop. While I have been a champion for the need to legalize cannabis in New Jersey, I have never lost sight that the jobs created by this new industry should be safeguarded with enhanced workplace protections. This is why my legislation added strong labor protections into the cannabis laws we passed. I wish Cannabis Engineer Extractors & Distributors Union (CEED) Local 420 continued success in their organizing efforts, and I will stand with them as I have always stood with the women and men of the Garden State’s Organized labor movement.”

Jeff Tabankin, budtender and shop steward at the Ascend Montclair Dispensary said, “I’ve worked at the Ascend Dispensary over six months and in the cannabis industry for over two years. Joining CEED Local 420 and ratifying this new contract will be beneficial to all my fellow budtenders. Before we joined CEED, we were only considered ‘at will’ employees and had relatively few workplace protections. This labor contract and the union is providing us with critical workplace protections, annual raises, a far better health, and benefits plan for the first time. The contract and representation will help us and our families afford the rising costs of doctor visits, hospital care, and prescriptions. We are proud CEED members and honored to join this green rush.”

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