UFCW Local 881 organizers demonstrated earlier this week outside of Sunnyside's Champaign, Illinois facility. Credit: Submitted / UFCW Local 881

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 Director of Organizing Moises Zavala says career advancement claims by Illinois marijuana companies during “the legislation stage” of adult-use cannabis two years ago are not being met. 

“The industry bragged early on that it would provide careers and create jobs,” Zavala told Grown In June 9, the day after drawing approximately 25 people to a press conference adjacent to the Champaign, Illinois Sunnyside dispensary, owned and operated by Chicago-based Cresco Labs.

“We don’t see careers, we just see jobs with a lot of turnover,” he added. “There are no real paths to a career in the industry. We don’t think that’s sustainable.”

The first union in the state to “push for medical and adult use,” Local 881 represents retail employees at Cresco’s Chicago Wrigleyville Sunnyside location as well workers at the company’s Joliet-based cultivation facility. 

The union is also in negotiations to organize cannabis retail workers in Illinois-based dispensaries owned by multistate operators Curaleaf, Ascend Wellness Holdings and Jushi.

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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.