With CBD legal for purchase nationwide and cannabis becoming legal in more and more states, these industries are becoming a new industry to organize. This organizing is being led by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), their sister union the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and the Teamsters.
The UFCW, which is the nation’s largest cannabis workers union, announced a historic agreement last week with Union Harvest and Nature’s Root Labs. This is the first-ever national agreement to unionize the entire workforce of a joint cannabis venture and the first-ever national CBD contract.
Nature’s Root Labs is located in Longmont Colorado and manufactures CBD, Hemp, and Cannabis products. Nature’s Root Labs is a manufacturer for Union Harvest. Workers at Nature’s Root Labs will be represented by UFCW Local 7 which is based in Colorado. Union Harvest, which is located in Colorado, has CBD workers in purchasing, sales, and worker/customer education in Clearwater Florida. These Florida workers will be represented by UFCW Local 1625. Union Harvest is already proudly displaying on the front page of their website that their employees are members of the UFCW.
“We are committed to running a pro-union company that will produce and sell high-quality CBD products to consumers across the nation and honors the hard work of our employees with a union contract,” said Union Harvest Managing Director and Founder Justin Eisenach. “That means higher wages and better benefits as well as giving workers a voice, which can be critical in any business, but particularly important in an emerging industry such as cannabis. Having a good relationship with our employees is important and a signed union contract is part of that. Now consumers will have a choice when they purchase CBD and can buy USA union-made, union-packed, union-sold products.”
According to the UFCW, between RWDSU and UFCW the union represents over 10,000 cannabis workers including recent victories at Windy City Cannabis in Illinois, Sira Naturals in Massachusetts, Perfect Union in California, Greenleaf in Rhode Island, OHM Grow/Pure Fire Dispensary in Colorado, Sunnyside (Cresco Labs) in New York, Garden State Dispensary in New Jersey, Vireo Health in Maryland, and DC Holistic Wellness in Washington, D.C.
“Job security is important, especially during a pandemic,” said Ataya Arreguin, a cannabis worker at Nature’s Root Labs. “I have two kids and throughout the past year, I have been worried about losing my job because of the pandemic. Now that we have a union, I feel even more confident that these jobs are secure and that they can become a great career that helps us build a better life for us and our families.”
Nikki Kateman, an organizer with RWDSU Local 338 in New York said that her union got involved with organizing cannabis shops about eight years ago because the union had the dual ability to organize a new and growing industry from the beginning, but also an industry where workers need protection since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. In April, Local 338 announced that they had successfully reached the first contract for workers at Sunnyside.
Teamsters Local 777 also recently organized their first cannabis shop. In Chicago, Illinois, budtenders at Modern Cannabis (MOCA) voted overwhelmingly to join the union. Illinois only legalized marijuana for recreational use and retail sale last year. However, in the past year, cannabis has already become one of the state’s fastest-growing industries with over $100 million in sales reported in 2020. Nationally the CBD market alone is worth $13.3 billion.
“We are proud to be joining Local 777, a union with a deep history of defending and advocating for workers’ rights,” said budtenders Jason Blumstein and Sydney Charles. “We are excited about the future and quality of life we can create for all cannabis workers.”
by Brian Young, ucommblog