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Cannabis Workers in Illinois Continue to Join Local 881

January 13, 2022

Cannabis workers at the Curaleaf dispensary in Skokie, Ill., recently joined UFCW Local 881 for the better wages and benefits that come with a union contract. Curaleaf Skokie is the third Curaleaf dispensary to join UFCW Local 881. Curaleaf, one of the largest multi-state cannabis companies, currently operates 10 dispensaries in Illinois.

The Curaleaf workers at the Skokie location joined our union family because they were concerned about disturbing workplace practices and trends, including toilets that didn’t flush and other facility and equipment issues; hours being cut; and a lack of benefits or job security. They were also concerned about schedules being posted with little or no advance notice; a ‘Hunger Games’ approach to promotions and raises; and a corporate culture that enabled disrespect of workers by management.

“We kept waiting for things to get better,” said Grace Baffoe, a product specialist at Curaleaf Skokie. “All we heard were false promises. Some of our coworkers were promoted, but then were pitted against each other to battle for who would get a raise in pay. It was like being in the Hunger Games! In the end, all the workers got was more responsibility and no one got an increase!”

“We believe Local 881 can help us, because they helped push through the legalization law in Illinois,” added Baffoe. “I know that, unlike my corporate bosses, Local 881 has respect for both the plant and for the people working in the cannabis industry. We think a union contract is our best chance to change this industry for the better and get the respect we deserve.”

“The money keeps rolling in for these large multi-state cannabis corporations,” said UFCW Local 881 President Steve Powell. “The workers are clearly not benefiting or being treated as they deserve. The communities that supported cannabis legislation and welcomed these companies are not benefiting either. When a worker describes corporate tactics comparable to a post-apocalyptic totalitarian society, you have to wonder, what will it take to hold the cannabis industry accountable for its actions towards workers? We are incredibly proud of these brave workers who are standing up for positive and meaningful change in this industry.”

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