Workers Unite

About 40 workers voted to form a union in Monson, Massachusetts. Monson is 10 miles from downtown Springfield. The workers work at Holistic Industries, a Washington, DC-based cannabis company. They are now negotiating their first union contract. “We will absolutely get a contract signed but it will be a long fight,” Jodi Madore told the Valley Post in a voice phone interview on June 27. She has worked at Holistic in Monson for three years. Madore grew up near Worcester, Massachusetts.

Scott Browne has worked at Holistic for two-and-a-half years. In a voice phone interview on June 26, he told the Valley Post, “I felt good when I found out we won the union vote. I was glad. I was in a union for 14 years in a paper factory here in Palmer. (Palmer borders Monson.) The factory is closed now. At Holistic now I work in the packaging department. We take cannabis and turn it into cartridges for vape pens, pre-rolled joints, and gummies. Other workers in the same building grow the cannabis. It's all grown indoors.”

Browne said, “The pay was the main reason we organized. When I started I was getting $15 an hour. Now I make $17.89 but new hires start at $17 now. I like working there. The supervisors have been fair to me. They don't have a lot of control over wages. I can't pay my bills. In the old days, like at the paper factory where I worked, people were loyal to companies and the companies were often loyal to their workers. Now turn-over is so high, it's very frustrating.”

The workers have a web site at www.ufcw1459.com.

According to the Cleveland Clinic's web site, “Marijuana is cannabis, but not all forms of cannabis are marijuana.”

Jodi Madore said, “Holistic hired a union buster before the union vote. The union won anyway. The union buster is still there, trying to make our lives miserable so all the union supporters will quit before we get a union contract signed.”

Union busters are high-paid lawyers who often violate federal law to try to eliminate unions, according to Cornell university labor relations professor Kate Bronfenbrenner.

Madore said, “The union has already helped us, even before we have a contract. We already get more holiday pay. The way the managers talk to us, they put the union in themselves. They never asked us why we wanted a union, they just told us to vote against the union.”

Until now, no news outlet has covered this victory. The union election was in September 2023. The federal government conducted the election.

In the USA, union workers make an average of $191 more per week, compared to workers who don't have a union. Reducing inequality is good for democracy, since billionaires buy politicians. In the Valley, all UPS and Stop and Shop workers belong to a union. That means billionaires make less money and workers make more.

Hundreds of workers at the Brattleboro Retreat mental hospital are union members. So are workers at hospitals in Greenfield, Northampton and Springfield; and at the food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro.

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