Curaleaf’s dispensary, which until recently was branded as “Windy City Cannabis” in Worth, Illinois. Credit: Apple Maps

Workers at a second Curaleaf dispensary in Illinois voted to unionize last week and two more are preparing to hold votes before 2021 is over. According to union representatives, the 35 eligible employees of Curaleaf’s dispensary (branded as “Windy City Cannabis” until recently) in suburban Worth, Ill. voted 24-11 to organize with Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). UFCW has a scheduled organization vote at Curaleaf’s Mokina, Ill. dispensary and another expected soon at the Skokie, Ill. dispensary. Last April, workers at a North Side Chicago Curaleaf dispensary voted to organize with UFCW.

Illinois has seen a wave of union activity in 2021, both with UFCW and the Teamsters, who have organized not only Curaleaf facilities, but also ones operated by PharmaCann, Cresco Labs, Ascend Wellness, and Green Thumb Industries, according to the National Labor Relations Board. This month, Teamsters Local 777 has filed to organize three Illinois PharmaCann Verilife dispensaries in Ottawa, Romeoville, and Rosemont.

According to union officials, organizing efforts at these efforts have centered on ensuring consistent pay among employees, better health care benefits, and predictable work schedules.

“One week they’ll have 10 hours, another they’ll have four. There’s lots of last minute changes,” said Teresa Ramirez-Gonzalez, Local 881’s Director of Organizing. “Their employees are reaching out and asking for union representation. If anything, what is [Curaleaf] doing to their employees? That should be the question.”

Asked for comment, Curaleaf spokesperson Jordon Rahmil responded, “While we believe that a direct relationship with our employees is the best route for us to work together, we respect the voices of our Worth Team Members. We remain focused on fostering a positive, supportive and inclusive work environment, while providing our patients and customers with the excellent service they expect and deserve from Curaleaf.”


Editor Mike is a co-founder and the editor of Grown In, a U.S. national cannabis industry newsletter and training company. His career has taken him from Capitol Hill to Chicago City Hall, from...