Cannabis Industry Seen as a Target for Union Expansion

Cannabis Industry Seen as a Target for Union Expansion
High Times

The cannabis industry is seeing a need for unions as more workers are hired and more states legalize. There is an increasing call from workers for better conditions, wages, and benefits, and unions are getting interested.  Cannabis is continually bringing in more money for the U.S. economy. In 2020, the industry brought in a total of between $17.5B and $21.3B and provided between 240,000 and 321,000 full-time jobs. It is projected to reach $41B by 2026. As more states come on with legalization these figures could be even higher.  And already, we are seeing unionization pop up. Modern Cannabis dispensary in Chicago unionized in 2021, and many other businesses in the city have done the same. The first cannabis union contract in Chicago was ratified in March 2022.  “We’re trying to make these careers for the long term, not just one that is a turnover establishment,” says Alex Suarez, who works at Modern Cannabis. “I think the upswing in organization in this country right now is astonishing and we need to keep going over that energy.” Tonya Townsend, who worked at a Green Thumb Industries cannabis facility in Rock Creek, Illinois when they pioneered unionizing in 2018 and 2019, saw some backlash to the movement. They failed to unionize, as the vote missed by a 26-30 margin.  “There was a lot of union busting. They hired the top union avoidance firm in the country,” she says. “We took them on for about a year. It was a lot. It was mental, physical, verbal, daily abuse from these guys – they fought us tooth and nail the whole way. These workers are reaching out to us for help, so that’s unusual. It used to be we were seeking them out and now they’re coming to us. Our phones are ringing constantly…

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