“Rhode Island communities in Portsmouth and across the state deserve a good community partner at their local medicinal dispensary that respects the rights of their workers,” says UFCW Local 328 in a press release. The union is urging community members to show their support by calling Greenleaf Compassion Center at 401-293-5987 and sending an email to email@example.com to demand that CEO Seth Bock reinstate employee Ben Telford, a member of Greenleaf’s union negotiating team who was fired last Wednesday.
UpriseRI arrived at Greenleaf Compassion Center, located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, while employees staged a one-day strike in support of Telford, who they say was terminated without due process and without just cause in retaliation for things he might have said during union negotiations.
“I am part of the initiative to push this [union] forward and deal with prior worker grievances [and] prior wrongful terminations,” said Telford. “My wrongful termination comes from a long line of them…” The employee grievances and wrongful terminations preceded the formation of a union for years. The union came together in January, and was officially formed in April of this year on a 21 to 1 vote.
It’s been a process since then of a lot of retaliation, discrimination, bullying, surveillance, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Telford. “This is really about securing good careers and jobs for our team here.”
The picket outside Greenleaf was entirely peaceful. Recognizing that patients need their medicinal cannabis, employees did not attempt to prevent customers from entering the store, and only asked that if possible, they delay their purchase by a day. Customers seemed very supportive of the picketers.
UpriseRI also spoke to Parker Terrell, a “budtender” at Greenleaf Compassion Center who is also on the union negotiating committee.