N.J. marijuana cultivation site closing down, entire staff could lose their jobs

n.j. marijuana cultivation site closing down, entire staff could lose their jobs

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – People outside Curaleaf, a cannabis dispensary located in Bellmawr. The company on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, that it was laying off 40 employees who work at the cultivation site in a separate building in Bellmawr.

Curaleaf, the largest grower and seller of legal cannabis in New Jersey and one of the biggest in the nation, plans to close one of its two cultivation facilities in Camden County and eliminate as many as 40 jobs, the company confirmed Wednesday night.

The company will transfer its growing operations from Bellmawr to its other cultivation facility in Winslow, Curaleaf’s statement to NJ Advance Media said.

No layoffs were announced at its retail shops in Edgewater Park, Bordentown and Bellmawr, said the statement, which did not say when the transfer would happen.

“Curaleaf is phasing out cultivation at our Bellmawr, New Jersey location to meet current business needs, and will utilize that location for other operations at this time. This allows us to consolidate our production of key product platforms with our Winslow facility and will streamline processes to increase output,” the statement said. “Winslow has the capacity to support New Jersey’s overall market demand.”

“The company values the dedication of the Bellmawr team and will work to identify other opportunities within its overall operations for impacted team members,” the statement said.

Curaleaf, which employs about 6,000 nationwide, eliminated 270 jobs last year, including 50 when it closed a facility in Sacramento last summer.

Industrywide, the cannabis business is hurting — the result of wholesale prices falling, inflation and the continuing difficulties of operating outside federal law that makes traditional banking all but impossible.

The company statement did not say specifically how many jobs would be affected by the decision on Bellmawr.

But Hugh Giordano, a representative from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 360, said he met with some of the 40 employees who work there after the announcement. They were stunned and saddened by the news, he said.

The employees had attempted to form a union at the cultivation site but management interfered, Giordano said. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about three weeks ago and is awaiting arbitration, he said.

“We don’t represent them, but it does not mean we will not fight for these workers. The layoffs are horrendous,” Giordano said. He said he suspects the layoffs may be another move to stop the union’s expansion efforts.

The decision to close the grow site “has nothing to do with the union,” Curaleaf spokeswoman Stephanie Cunha replied in an email on Thursday.

The law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in 2021 to establish the legitimate cannabis market requires operators to sign a “labor peace agreement,” a statement that says management will not interfere with union activities and will be open to discussions if employees express interest. Most shops are represented by UFCW, including Curaleaf’s dispensary employees.

This is not the first time Curaleaf has clashed with unions. The National Labor Relations Board found last fall that Curaleaf in Chicago refused to bargain with unionized workers, in violation of federal law, according to Benzinga, a cannabis industry news site.

Earlier this month, a former Curaleaf employee sued the company, accusing it of retaliating against her for speaking out during an investigation into the consumption of alcohol at one of its dispensaries.

Based in New York, Curaleaf is the largest cannabis company in America based on the total value of its shares of stock, or market capitalization, according to industry reports. It operates dispensaries in 17 states, according to its website.

Curaleaf was one of the first medicinal marijuana companies in New Jersey, opening in 2015. Sales to adults 21 and older began in New Jersey on April 21, 2022.

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Susan K. Livio may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit nj.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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