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Cannabis Unionization Efforts Continue To Grow Across Several States

Efforts to unionize cannabis have been underway for roughly a decade, with United Food and Commercial Workers noted as a leader in the movement.

By Andrew Ward

Cannabis workers continue to unionize in an increased fashion across several states.

The latest example came on Tuesday when the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced that cannabis cultivation workers employed at Cresco/Sunnyside in Fall River, Massachusetts, had voted overwhelmingly to approve their first union contract.

Rhode Island Cannabis Workers Go Union
Photo by Add Weed via Unsplash

The UFCW 328 agreement secures guaranteed pay increases, fair scheduling policies, offers important workplace protections and strengthens retirement benefits and employee discounts. Cresco cultivation workers will see up to an 18.7% pay increase over the next three years.

Molly Balbuena, a three-year employee of Cresco in Fall River and a member of the negotiating team, said she was proud that her colleagues stuck together.

“We are so excited to have secured the better future and collective voice we were looking for when we formed our union with UFCW. We urge all cannabis workers to come together and say Union Yes!”

On Monday the UFCW Local 5 in California announced it had unionized its first weed industry workers in an agreement that includes over 500 cannabis manufacturers and lab workers from Santa Rosa-based companies CannaCraft Manufacturing and Sonoma Lab Works.

RELATED: Rhode Island Cannabis Workers Go Union

On June 15, 2021, 39 agriculture workers at Adelanto, California-based Tikun Olam Cannbit Pharmaceuticals Ltd (TLV: TKUN) voted to join the Teamsters Local 1932. The Teamsters said it was “the first Agricultural Labor Relations Board election victory for cannabis workers in Southern California.”

Pandemic Fuels Surge In Cannabis Union Efforts Across America

Efforts to unionize cannabis have been underway for roughly a decade, with UFCW noted as a leader in the movement.

Incremental and notable milestones have been reached, including 2019’s unionization of workers at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Medical Solutions, a subsidiary of GOODNESS GROWTH HLDGS INC. (OTC:GDNSF).

finding business opportunities in the cannabis industry
Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

The pandemic saw efforts surge across various states. MJBizDaily reports that the uptick was brought on by job security fears, increased protection for labor organizing and more aggressive union targeting of the industry.

This year has seen agreements reached in several states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Colorado.

RELATED: Why Unions Might Hit The Cannabis Industry Soon Enough

In February, ten members of Somerville, Massachusetts’ Liberty Cannabis joined UFCW Local 1445 in February 2021.

In April, workers at Portsmouth, Rhode Island’s Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center joined UFCW Local 32.

In May, Longmont, Colorado-based employees at Union Harvest and Nature’s Root Labs also agreed to joined UFCW.

The Colorado agreement is considered “a first of its kind, across-the-board unionized CBD joint venture that sets a precedent for even more workers in the industry to unionize,” according to a UFCW press release.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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