Cresco cannabis dispensary workers in Chicago area vote to unionize

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Employees at Cresco Labs’ Illinois marijuana dispensary in Lakeview have voted to unionize, one of the industry’s first unionization elections since the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers voted 16-4 to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, according to Moises Zavala, the local’s organizing director.

Cresco, a multistate operator based in Chicago, employs about 40 at the Chicago suburban outlet.

In January, employees at Cresco’s cultivation facility in Joliet became the first cannabis workers in the new adult-use state market to unionize by a margin of 58-32.

“Workers in this industry are voting for the union because they want to turn these jobs in the industry into careers and to be treated as the professionals that they are,” Zavala told Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday.

He said the union will initiate contract negotiations after the National Labor Relations Board certifies the vote. “We look forward in negotiating a strong contract for these workers.”

The UFCW has been actively trying to unionize cannabis workers in Illinois, especially singling out Cresco.

A union leaflet claimed that Cresco Sunnyside in Lakeview was slow to provide protections during the coronavirus pandemic and paid low wages.

Cresco disputed those allegations, saying it immediately implemented strong health and safety protocols around COVID-19, and offered competitive pay and benefits.