Curaleaf’s Herbology dispensary in Newark, Ohio.

Two dispensaries in Ohio are scheduled for unionization votes in coming weeks as well as a dispensary and a call-in center in Illinois.

“For me, every week, we are making small changes in our store to accommodate more patients but there hasn’t been much for the employees who work very hard, and we all try to strive to break records,” said Megan Fisher, a wellness advisor at Cresco Labs-owned Sunnyside Wellness Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Twenty-two hourly employees are scheduled to vote for representation Jan. 5 by mail-in ballot at Fisher’s workplace, with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75. About 70% of the local Sunnyside workers requested recognition, said Fisher, but Cresco Labs, which owns the Sunnyside brand, opted for an official vote. 

Asked for comment, Cresco Labs told Grown In, “We support our employees’ right to have a secret ballot NLRB sanctioned election and are proud to offer excellent pay, benefits, and a great working environment and will continue to do so.”

Also in Ohio, workers at Curaleaf-owned Herbology Dispensary, located just outside Columbus, in Newark, Ohio, are voting in an election for UFCW Local 1059 representation. 

“We have 15 prospective members there,” said Randy Quickel, president of Local 1059. “We mailed out ballots to the voters on Dec. 15 and their ballots will be counted Jan. 18. The reason they want to organize is you always have strength in numbers. You have a person representing you in contract negotiations. They want a better work environment and they want to have improved wages and a voice in the workplace.”

Recently union organizers in Ohio launched to galvanize cannabis worker support for unionization.

Organizing efforts continue in Illinois with 19 Zen Leaf workers in Lombard seeking representation with Teamsters Local 777 and 15 PharmaCann/Verilife Schaumburg call center workers seeking representation with UFCW Local 881. PharmaCann workers cited better pay, benefits, career and educational opportunities as reasons for wanting representation.

Election paperwork has been filed with the NLRB, but Teamsters Local 777 is waiting for the board to set an election date, according to Jim Glimco, president of Local 777.

“Sometimes it takes about a week or two to get a date and we don’t have it yet,” Glimco said. “Scheduling problems and a lot of pay issues are some of the concerns.”

A statement from Zen Leaf reads, “At Zen Leaf, supporting the well-being of our community of patients, customers and employees is at the heart of who we are and how we operate. We welcome continued engagement on potential opportunities to further elevate the Zen Leaf experience for our valued team members and dispensary visitors.”

Grown In contacted PharmaCann for comment but did not receive a response by publication.

After working full-time for about a year, Fisher dropped her hours down to part-time and now works just under 40 hours per week. 

Sunnyside wellness advisors earn $16 an hour on average, according to UFCW organizers. Megan Fisher and her co-workers would also like to see the hourly pay at the Ohio Sunnyside brought up to about $20 an hour.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things and wanting to have somebody to kind of represent us to make sure things are fair,” Fisher saidAs of Dec. 20, Ohio dispensaries have generated $366,277,189 in sales in 2021 according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. As of Nov. 30, there were 231,165 medical marijuana patients registered in Ohio, also according to OMMCP.

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.