Progress, Obstacles in Cannabis Industry Unionization Push

Progress, Obstacles in Cannabis Industry Unionization Push

This summer saw encouraging steps forward in the drive to unionize the fast-growing cannabis industry. Workers at Cultivate Holdings‘ grow facility and retail outlet in the central Massachusetts town of Leicester voted to affiliate with Local 1445 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The grow facility was one of the first state-legal adult-use dispensaries on the East Coast.“This is not just a victory for cannabis workers at Cultivate, but for all cannabis workers. We’ve set a precedent by working collectively that enables us not only to survive but to thrive,” Craig Chaplin, a Cultivate employee, told MassLive.com on Aug. 11.The UFCW is at the forefront of the unionization effort in the industry and has launched a Cannabis Workers Rising campaign. The UFCW, which calls itself the United States’ largest private-sector union, represents 1.3 million people who work in supermarkets, meatpacking plants, food-processing facilities—and cannabis dispensaries, mostly on the West Coast.The UFCW has been organizing cannabis workers since 2010 and currently claims to represent tens of thousands employed in the industry—but progress has been limited. The International Cannabis Business Conference estimates 243,700 full-time-equivalent jobs supported by legal cannabis coast to coast as of January 2020.Only the agricultural employees at Cultivate voted to unionize, although UFCW officials said there is an ongoing campaign to organize the retail workers as well. Local 1445 secretary-treasurer Fabricio DaSilva told MassLive the union is confident more workers will want to join those “who will benefit from organizing this emerging industry.”  The previous month saw two similar advances. In July, some 60 workers at the New England Treatment Access cultivation…

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