As unionization efforts in the cannabis industry have started to emerge in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan and Illinois, Missouri is the newest state with workers wanting to organize.
Eight workers at the Root 66 South Grand medical cannabis dispensary in St. Louis unanimously voted to authorize the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655 to begin bargaining on their behalf for a union contract, according to a news release from the union chapter.
The Root 66 workers are employed by GF Wellness S. Grand LLC, according to National Labor Relations Board documentation for the union election.
The Local 655 represents more than 8,500 UFCW members in the eastern half of the state, including workers in retail food and non-food, shoe manufacturing, packinghouses, distribution centers and a number of miscellaneous plants.
“Cannabis workers across the country are voting to join a union because they know it’s the best way to secure good wages and benefits on the job,” said David Cook, president of Local 655. “Workers need economic security and fair treatment in the workplace, and cannabis workers are no different. We are committed to helping cannabis workers across Missouri.”
The Root 66 workers are the first cannabis-related employees in the state to move toward organizing under Local 655 representation.
Other UFCW chapters are already representing cannabis workers elsewhere. The Local 328 has partnered with cultivation and retail workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while the Local 876 is working with dispensary employees in Michigan, and the Local 881 is making moves in Illinois.
The Root 66 workers voiced the need for better benefits, including paid sick leave and vacation time, during their unionization campaign, according to Local 655.
“If there are changes made to policy, we deserve to understand why, and right now it feels like they can just change things whenever they want and that makes it difficult on us,” Root 66 dispensary employee Prince Israel said in the Local 655 release.
“Benefits are also very important to us,” he said. “We really like what we do, and we want these jobs to be good jobs for all of us.”