Cannabis employees continue unionizing as the industry matures
Labor movements are an interesting thread of cannabis history as the industry grows into its prime. Workers are unionizing to solidify paid sick leave, health benefits, updated wages, and more.
Action in Illinois, where Green Thumb Industries employees were forced to strike amid contract negotiations, and other states have inspired other workers to unionize. Here’s a rundown of the latest news updates on the labor equity front.
Amuse drivers vote to unionize
Drivers for California delivery dispensary Amuse joined the Teamsters this week. Elias Valenzuela, Jr. was a member of United Auto Workers before driving for Amuse. He noticed a driver wearing a shirt that said ‘cannabis teamsters’ and started looking into organizing his co-workers.
“When we first started handing out authorization cards, almost everyone signed up – it was really quick,” Valenzuela said in a press release obtained by GreenState. “People realized that this company isn’t moving with us, and we have to move up. A message I have for other cannabis workers about why they should unionize is: corporate greed is still strong and alive, and it’s never going away until we stand up and say enough is enough.”
The Botanist employees ratify new contract
While Amuse drivers are just starting, New Jersey employees of vertically integrated The Botanist overwhelmingly voted to ratify a union contract with the company this week. These cannabis workers signed up with United Food & Commercial Workers Local 152, a faction currently negotiating multiple cannabis contracts in the state.
“This strong first contract is the culmination of months of hard bargaining on behalf of our members,” Local 152 President Brian String said in a press release. “The unity displayed by these workers was crucial to our success and sets a strong foundation for continued achievements.”
UFCW 152 represents a total of 60 workers across two out of three vertically integrated operations. The contract will be valid for three years, covering raises, ratification bonuses, and improved health benefits. New hires will be privy to a higher base salary, and now all employees will have a reliable way to report and investigate an issue.
“Our expertise in bargaining across many diverse, challenging industries makes Local 152 a powerful ally for cannabis workers,” String said. “No one has to go it alone. With a union, we’re all in this together.”