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Chicagoland union gets 20% raise for cannabis workers. Are unions good or bad for the marijuana industry?

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Organized work in the marijuana industry continues to generate significant wage increases, as evidenced by the recent development of five PharmaCann adult-use cannabis dispensaries in Chicago. the Union workers in these dispensaries They successfully negotiated a substantial pay increase of 20% over three years.

The recent wage increase is another noteworthy victory for organized labor, as it adds to the growing pressure Unions take over the major cannabis industry operators throughout the country.

According to Crain’s Chicago BusinessPharmaCann’s Verilife dispensaries saw a big turnaround last week. The workers at these dispensaries, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 777, were certified to a three-year contract. According to the agreement, hourly wages will be subject to a significant increase of 20%.

MJBizDaily reports Entry-level wages at certain Chicago-area dispensaries can be as low as $17 an hour. However, union dispensaries have higher wages, with union officials stating that it can start at $19.50 an hour. It should be noted that the Teamsters also represent workers at RISE, which is owned by Green Thumb Industries.

According to union officials, the recent 13-day strike at three RISE stores in the Chicago area, which began on April 19, is believed to be the longest work stoppage in the history of the US cannabis industry. Contract negotiations between Green Thumb and RISE organized by Teamster are ongoing.

History of the Chicago Cannabis Federation

The Illinois cannabis industry, which brought in more than $1 billion in revenue in its first year of recreational marijuana sales, is just beginning to experience its own “Norma Ray” moment for union awareness.

Cannabis workers across chicago To Springfield, union efforts are beginning to be driven by a desire for higher wages, career advancement, and enhanced protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. This bold move towards unionization in the cannabis industry has the potential to reshape the labor landscape for this rapidly expanding sector.

History made in Illinois, the employees at Sunnyside Cannabis dispensary located in chicago The Lakeview neighborhood achieved an important milestone by voting overwhelmingly in favor of unionization. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has overseen union certification elections conducted by mail as a precaution during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After filing ballot papers in May, workers waited patiently for the NLRB’s announcement on June 25, revealing that 80% of the vote was in favor of the union’s decision.

In December, the state’s inaugural hemp union contract was successfully ratified by more than 180 employees at the Cresco Labs Growing Center in Joliet. Although the union has been actively organizing cannabis workers since 2011, the movement has gained significant momentum over the years, coinciding with the growing number of states that have legalized marijuana.

Exit in Missouri

Amid recent developments in Chicago, A.J The infirmary in Missouri witnessed a sit-in by current and former workers who alleged that management took disciplinary action or fired employees who attempted to organize.

As reported by the Missouri Independent, nine individuals who currently work or used to work at the Shangri-La South dispensary in Columbia have claimed they faced fallout after organizing a petition to join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655.

According to the newspaper’s report, the management denied the allegations of the current and former workers. However, in response to the situation, these individuals took additional action by filing federal complaints, alleging violations of federal labor law.

Connecticut establishes the first cannabis union

Following a press release from the union, nearly 50 employees of Advanced Grow Labs in Connecticut succeeded in creating the state’s first cannabis union. Specifically, 48 employees of the company’s agriculture facility in West Haven have become members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 919.

UFCW Local 919 President Mark Espinosa expressed his excitement about the upcoming contract negotiations, saying they are excited to haggle a contract and set a standard for all cannabis workers in this state. He further stressed the importance of teamwork, indicating that they recognize the power of unity. With the efforts of these Advanced Grow Labs workers, more workers will reap the benefits of their hard work.

After its acquisition by Green Thumb Industries in 2019, Advanced Grow Labs is one of four licensed companies in Connecticut responsible for growing and processing hemp. The state’s adult-use retail regulations, implemented in 2021, include provisions that are expected to make it easier to unionize more operators in Connecticut. Therefore, other businesses in the state are more likely to choose to unionize.

As a prerequisite for final approval, the law states that all licensed cannabis holders in Connecticut must participate in a labor peace agreement (LPA) with a legitimate labor organization. It is important to note that while the LPA does not mandate workers to unionize, it does establish a framework to make it easier to unionize one if desired.

Over the past few years, cannabis workers in Canada and several US markets, such as California, New Jersey, Illinois, and Missouri, have increasingly unionized in order to improve pay, representation, benefits, and overall job security.


As the cannabis market expands, the voice of industry workers grows and develops together. Union seeds were sown across the country, from Chicago to Springfield, resulting in historic victories and seismic shifts. The job market in the marijuana industry is changing as more workers seek fair wages, career advancement, and increased job security.

Every time a union is formed, or a contract is approved, a new chapter is added to the book, illuminating the power of teamwork and the desire to create a better future. Workers and unions nurture a sector of the economy that not only thrives, but also places great importance on the rights and welfare of those who contribute to its success.

The history of cannabis syndication is an example of the stability and development of a rapidly expanding industry, in which the common goal of a more powerful and equal worker is gradually becoming a reality.

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