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Illinois Cannabis Workers Unionize

January 30, 2020

By Joe Levine

Springfield, Illinois – Workers at Cresco Labs, one of the largest cannabis companies in Illinois, voted to join UFCW Local 881. The group was the first in Illinois to join a union.

Because Cresco’s cultivation employees are already covered under federal labor laws for agricultural workers, only non-cultivation personnel are eligible to join the bargaining unit, such as those handling packaging, transportation, extraction and infusion, and front-end staff. This includes 100 staff. Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act expressly state that the “General Assembly supports and encourages labor neutrality in the cannabis industry.” Unlike in California, Illinois companies are not required to have “labor peace agreements” in place.  Even so, companies seeking operating licenses are given credit for having such agreements.  These agreements include, among other things, that the licensee would not interfere with a union’s efforts to organize and represent workers’ interests.

UFCW is primarily known for its representation of workers in the grocery industry so cannabis workers are a good fit for this international.  Although a first in Illinois, the UFCW has successfully unionized tens of thousands of cannabis workers across the country, including in California, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania.

January 30, 2020

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