Marijuana Retailer is Tirst to Unionize in Washington State

One of Washingon’s largest licensed marijuana retailers has inked a union contract to cover 134 workers at five locations, helping it provide employee benefits while navigating the difficult waters of federal law.

Ryan Kunkel, CEO and founder of Have a Heart, said the agreement with the United Food & Commercial Workers union Local 21 solves a problem for the company, which has ambitious plans to grow in a half-dozen other states.

“For better part of 3 years we have been trying to figure out how to provide basic things like health care benefits,” he said in an interview.

“We’re not a business in the eyes of the federal government,” so it’s been difficult to set up insurance coverage. But the labor contract makes employees eligible to join an established union health program with thousands of employees, he said.

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