Labor group and supporters push for Windy City Cannabis union organization

Mike Fourcher / Grown In

Cook County Comm. Brandon Johnson speaks in support of unionization at Windy City Cannabis’ Weed Street dispensary.

As Chicago temperatures began to warm Wednesday, labor organizers attempted to put their own heat on a Windy City Cannabis dispensary preparing for a unionization vote next month. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 brought a pair of workers from the 30-person facility and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to explain the need for a union at the location in anticipation of a mail-in vote that begins today, February 25 with results due by March 22.

At the press conference workers complained that the location, which they say is pulling in around $23,000 a day, and as much as $40,000 on a Saturday, is poorly maintained, with overflowing toilets and low supplies of PPE and sanitizer. Workers also claim that raises promised last October were delayed first by Windy City’s merger with Curaleaf and then due to pandemic needs.

Grassroots and Windy City Cannabis’ merger with Curaleaf, announced in July 2019, has not been entirely completed, reportedly because Grassroots and Windy City, which have been operating separately together have 16 dispensary licenses, six over the legal limit for one entity, and Illinois regulators want six of those licenses to be sold off before the remaining dispensaries can be transferred to Curaleaf.UFCW Local 881, operating as the Illinois Cannabis Workers Union, has been aggressively working to organize Illinois cannabis facilities, with mixed success. A unionizing election at Cresco Labs’ Lincoln, Illinois cultivation site failed last month, and a second election at a Cresco Sunnyside dispensary in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood resulted in UFCW organizing the facility.