Verilife dispensary workers vote to ratify union contract, securing worker improvements
Union negotiations have ended between Verilife cannabis dispensary workers from five Chicago Metropolitan Area stores and parent company Pharmacann. Dispensary workers voted to ratify their first union contract as Teamsters Local 777 members this week, as shared in a press release from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
A former Verilife employee turned Local 777 Business Agent, Chris Smith, was essential in the bargaining process.
“This has been a long time coming, and it’s been an honor to work with my brothers and sisters at Verilife on creating collective bargaining agreements that are going to redefine what it means to work in this industry,” Smith said.
The resulting agreements cover over 100 Verilife employees at the Ottawa, Romeoville, Chicago, Rosemont, and Arlington Heights locations. Dispensary associates from Arlington Heights and River North stores were the first dispensary employees to join Local 777 in November 2022.
Those covered by the contract will receive significant worker improvements such as a 20 percent raise over the agreement’s lifetime, more full-time positions, guaranteed tips, and employer-funded retirement contributions.
“These aren’t just model contracts for creating long-term, prosperous careers in cannabis. It’s also a paradigm for labor relations that we hope other employers in this industry can learn to follow,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Food Processing Division Director.
Verilife call center workers joined Local 777 in February 2022, but the call center was closed before contract negotiations ended. However, with help from Local 777, all call center employees who wished to transition into roles at Verilife dispensaries secured new positions with the company.
As such, all call center workers who transitioned are covered by the new contract, according to a direct statement from the Communications Project Manager at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Matt McQuaid.
While the Local 777 celebrates this victory, contract negotiations with Green Thumb Industries following a 14-day strike are ongoing.