Marijuana dispensary workers are unionizing, while Big Cannabis throws up roadblocks

Workers at the Curaleaf Midtown dispensary in Phoenix are the first cannabis workers to unionize in Arizona, and they’re part of a burgeoning movement in the cannabis industry to fight for workers’ rights. /Photo by Jim Small /Arizona Mirror

By David Abbott | Arizona Mirror

Workers at the Curaleaf Midtown dispensary in Phoenix are the first cannabis workers to unionize in Arizona, and they’re part of a burgeoning movement in the cannabis industry to fight for workers’ rights. Photo by Jim Small | Arizona Mirror

Unionization for workers in the cannabis industry is gathering steam in Arizona, as budtenders at the Curaleaf Dispensary in midtown Phoenix recently voted to unionize, while workers at several other dispensaries are poised to vote on the issue within the next few weeks.

“[This] election marks an important milestone for cannabis workers in Arizona and across the country,” United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin said in a July 2 press release. “As cannabis companies like Curaleaf continue to see record profits, the time to share their prosperity with workers is long overdue.”

UFCW 99 is Arizona’s largest private-sector union, representing 24,000 workers at Fry’s, Safeway and other retailers throughout the southwest. There are more than 1.3 million UFCW members nationwide.

Massachusetts-based Curaleaf is one of the world’s largest cannabis companies by revenue, operating  more than 100 dispensaries in 22 states across the U.S., including eight in Arizona.

Employees at Curaleaf’s dispensary on Central Avenue, just north of Thomas Road, voted 13-6 on June 30 to join UFCW, making them the first cannabis workers in the state to unionize.

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