Employees at a Lake View pot shop became the first workers at an Illinois dispensary to unionize in the state’s expanding legal cannabis industry on Thursday.
The 40 employees of the Sunnyside dispensary at 3812 N. Clark voted “overwhelmingly” to join Illinois’ cannabis union, Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, according to a statement from the union.
While the latest election was originally petitioned for in early April, the vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board was delayed multiple times by the COVID- 19 pandemic.
“The entire process has tested everyone’s resolve, but we came through in the end,” employee Nicholas Stankus said.
Stankus and the other workers at the shop pushed to unionize in an effort to improve working conditions at the dispensary. Their grievances included a slow and inadequate response to the COVID-19 crisis, a lack of managerial professionalism, unclear workplace policies and procedures and a “growing culture of disrespect for workers,” according to the statement
“The workers at Sunnyside are a great example of what happens when workers stand together and fight for what they want,” said Steve Powell, president of Local 881, “This was a long wait, but better careers are worth fighting for. Our Union is proud of these workers and looks forward to negotiating a contract that will be worth the wait!”
The Sunnyside shop is operated by Cresco Labs, a River North-based cannabis powerhouse that grows and sells weed across nine states. Workers at Cresco’s Joliet cultivation center previously joined Local 881 in January, marking the first cannabis workforce to unionize in the state just two weeks after the statewide prohibition on pot was lifted.
Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes said the company “respected, supported and protected the rights of our employees to make this important decision through an independent, secret ballot election.
“We look forward to continuing to provide all of our employees a fair package of employee wages, health and retirement benefits and an environment that is a great, safe place to work.”