To no one’s surprise, the country’s second and third largest labor unions are locking horns as to who can unionize the most cannabis employees. (The largest union, AFSCME, is for state, county and municipal employees only.) We’re referring to the Teamsters Union, with approximately 1.4 million members, and close behind the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, with 1.3 million members.
UFCW has been the most active in unionizing dispensaries, labs, manufacturing facilities, grow facilities and more. They now representing tens of thousands of cannabis workers across the U.S. Their most recent successful unionization efforts include:
- The entire Colorado and Florida workforce of Union Harvest and their manufacturing facility Nature’s Root Labs. The union has announced this as the “first-ever national agreement” unionizing cannabis workers.
- Workers in three San Diego dispensaries from cannabis chain March and Ash, encompassing more than 140 employees.
- Workers at Green Farmers LLC in Pueblo, Colorado.
Not to be left behind, the Teamsters of late have been challenging UFCW for prominence in cannabis. They have recently chalked up two wins:
- Budtenders at the MOCA dispensaries owned by Ascend Wellness in Chicago’s trendy River North and Logan Square neighborhoods.
- Cannabis agricultural workers at Tikun Olam, an 80,000 square foot cultivation facility in Adelanto, California — and a first for Southern California.
The selling points for cannabis workers seem to go beyond better wages to include such benefits as subsidized childcare and education reimbursement, in addition to eligibility for health care. Some of these union contracts also include profit sharing and increased protections from COVID-19.
The cannabis industry has typically seen less union participation than other related industries like food processing and retailing, but the momentum appears to be on the side of the unions. With CBD being legally sold nationwide, CBD companies may likely be the first to be covered by national union contracts.