Organized labor in the Illinois cannabis world could enter into a new era today. In Joliet, 100 employees at Cresco Labs will vote on whether they will join the United Food and Commercial Workers. Should the yeses outnumber the nos, they will be the first workplace in the state to organize.
Legal recreational cannabis sales started in the state on January 2, and $3.2 million worth of product was moved by stores on the first day. Though those sales numbers did not remain entirely consistent, demand has been so high that many dispensaries have run out of product. There are estimates that the cannabis industry will ring up $2 to $3 billion dollars, accounting for some 65,000 jobs.
That’s a lot of wealth to be generated, and many have expressed concerns that cannabis industry profits won’t be appropriately distributed to companies’ employees.
“We worked to get ourselves into the bill because cannabis jobs can be a career for people,” said Zach Koutsky, legislative and political director for UFCW Local 881 to local news site Chicago Business. “We think we can provide pensions and union-provided health care.”
Political leaders of color have sounded the alarm over the whiteness of the leadership