Santa Ana’s South Coast Safe Access (SCSA) medical marijuana dispensary and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) have negotiated the first dispensary labor agreement in Orange County. The contract allows for workers to get paid holidays, paid sick leave, employer paid health insurance, pension retirement plan, paid vacation, grievance procedure and livable wages.
As Orange County's first city-licensed medical-marijuana dispensary, SCSA saw hardship last November when manager and part-owner Derek Worden was shot while leaving work to go to his car. “We've been talking to them [UFCW] for about six months,” says Worden.
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As the industry’s becoming more regulated, and thus more legitimate, the idea behind the new contract is to ensure protection and equal rights for those who work in the cannabis industry. “We are excited to bring better work conditions to this industry so that others will follow,” Worden says. “A lot of these employees don't have dental, vision, chiropractic and that's what this contract brings— the employees were so stoked when they heard.”
The Orange County Labor Federation's UFCW Union Local 324 represents pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy clerks. In other words, SCSA will make history as the first unionized marijuana dispensary in Orange County. Additionally, it raises the bar for other dispensaries in the area, allowing for growth to take place within the industry. “The contract is a one year contract and takes effect March 7,” Worden says. “This is a big deal, and we are very excited to be the first to do it.”
A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. today at SCSA to discuss the deal, as well as to announce that 20 workers in Santa Ana have made history. “When we did this whole thing, we outlined it after Berkeley's Compassionate Care Center. Their whole contract looked really good and made sense,” says Worden, adding that the contract also provides a retirement plan for workers. “We don't want short term employees," he says. "This is a long term plan.”