A unionization effort filed for 17 employees at the Curaleaf medical dispensary in Hanover, Mass., went all the way to Washington, D.C., before a final decision on the results of a mail-in election was made earlier this month. The majority of ballots had been challenged, some of which remained sealed in the final vote count.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328, which represents more than 11,000 workers in a range of industries throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, filed for the Curaleaf Hanover union election April 20, 2020—during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballots went out to the Hanover team in May, and the original vote count was June 26. That vote came back 5-2 in favor of joining the Local 328, excluding 10 challenged ballots, which were determinative, meaning there were more challenged votes than the difference between yeses and noes.
“There was some fighting back and forth—because it was during COVID—about people that they were bringing in from other areas and having them work there,” UFCW Local 328 President Tim Melia said. “But they weren’t part of the Hanover group. The company was arguing that they should be part of the unit and should be able to vote on the contract. And we were arguing back the other way. So, there were some charges about who was eligible and who wasn’t when the vote came.”
The challenged ballots took nearly 10 months to sort out. A federal investigation and hearing by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) examined the circumstances of the challenged ballots, which stemmed from which workers were employed at the Hanover location before government shutdowns and which workers were not. The Boston regional office of the NLRB determined that six of the 10 challenged ballots should not be counted. Curaleaf appealed that decision to the NLRB