Labor unions notch wins at cannabis MSOs in Illinois, New Jersey

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Labor organizers secured new contract agreements at multistate operator-owned cannabis dispensaries in Illinois and in New Jersey, union officials announced this week.

In Illinois, workers at Zen Leaf dispensaries in Chicago and Schaumburg reached a tentative contract agreement with parent company Verano Holdings, according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 777.

The agreement includes pay increases of up to 20% over the next three years as well as employer-funded retirement contributions, the union said in a news release.

Employees must still approve the deal via a majority vote.

In New Jersey, workers at the Cannabist dispensary in Deptford voted unanimously to approve a contract, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 360.

Cannabist is owned by New York-based MSO Columbia Care, whose blockbuster merger with Chicago-based Cresco Labs remains up in the air.

The Deptford location is the first unionized Columbia Care workplace, according to the UFCW.

The union did not provide contract details aside from noting “guaranteed wage increases” retroactive to March of this year.

Both the UFCW and the Teamsters, the two most prominent national labor unions organizing cannabis workers, have significantly increased pressure on marijuana businesses over the past year.

In addition to routine complaints alleging management interference in organizing and other potential violations of federal labor law, both unions have shown a willingness to go on strike.

A 13-day labor stoppage in April at Chicago-area RISE dispensaries, a brand owned by Green Thumb Industries, is believed to be the longest strike in U.S. cannabis industry history.