Growing number of Illinois cannabis employees vote to join Teamsters

Workers at three cannabis companies in Illinois have voted to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters a labor union serving the U.S. and Canada.

An “overwhelming” vote to join the Teamsters Local 777 came on Thursday, February 24 from consultants working at Lombard-based Zen Leaf retail cannabis store.

Prior to this, workers at two Schaumburg-based cannabis businesses chose to team up with the same union, which also recently welcomed employees from a Verilife call center.

One week before Verilife united with the Teamsters Local 777, Enlightened Dispensary staff chose to unionize with the Local 777.

Staff at Modern Cannabis in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood have also voted to join the Teamsters.

“Our momentum throughout the Illinois cannabis industry isn’t slowing down – not today, not tomorrow, not ever,” said President Jim Glimco of Teamsters Local 777 in a news statement.

Cannabis worker unionization Illinois: More businesses vote to join the UFCW Local 88

It’s not just Teamsters Local 777 that are welcoming an influx of unionization interest from cannabis businesses in Illinois but also, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881.

On Thursday, February 24, employees at Sunnyside dispensary in Champaign, Illinois decided to join the UFCW Local 881. 

The Sunnyside branch is the third Cresco Labs-owned cannabis dispensary where workers opted in for unionization; following unionization by the Sunnyside shop in Lakeview and at a Joliet-based cultivation facility in Joliet.

According to the UFCW Local 881’s press release, Ascend in downtown Springfield and Windy City Cannabis on Weed Street recently voted to affiliate with the union, too.

More businesses are expected to confirm their cannabis worker unionization in Illinois as the year progresses.

Cannabis worker unionization Illinois: State’s legal industry is progressing in leaps and bounds

The recent unionization victories coincide with a surge in cannabis employment opportunities across Illinois many of which are transpiring as a direct effect of increased legal purchases.

Cannabis sales in Illinois have been on a progressive incline since recreational cannabis was legalized in January of 2020. 

Revenue to the amount of $1.03 billion was recorded in 2020 $669 million came from recreational cannabis sales and $366 million from medical sales.

Recreational cannabis sales reached a new milestone in December at almost $138 million. Officials from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation say that this represents a 14 percent increase from the month prior. 

During 2021, in excess of 30 million cannabis products were sold by the state’s 110 licensed dispensaries. Plus, almost a third of adult-use cannabis revenue was earned from out-of-state customers.