Two Colorado cannabis companies unionize, setting precedent for CBD workers

Workers at two Longmont cannabis companies unionized this week, a move the labor organization hopes sets a precedent as the first-ever national union contract for CBD workers.

Workers from Union Harvest and Nature’s Root will join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which counts 22,000 Colorado members and bills itself as the nation’s America’s largest cannabis workers union.

“Job security is important, especially during a pandemic,” Ataya Arreguin, an employee at Nature’s Root Labs, said in a statement. “I have two kids and throughout the past year I have been worried about losing my job because of the pandemic. Now that we have a union, I feel even more confident that these jobs are secure and that they can become a great career that help us build a better life for us and our families.”

Justin Eisenach, Union Harvest’s managing director and founder, said he hopes the move will serve as an example to others in the industry.

“It’s important Colorado continues to be a leader in the cannabis industry, and we can do that by working with UFCW,” Eisenach said.

The effort to unionize cannabis workers has been growing steadily across in the country in recent years, and the pandemic only hastened that pace. Much of it has been led by UFCW, which Rolling Stone magazine dubbed “America’s most powerful cannabis union.”

But even though Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana, workers at pot shops across the state struggled for years to unionize.

In 2016, efforts by a Pueblo worker to organize a union led to his ousting. The following year, workers at the Rocky Mountain High dispensary voted in favor of forming a union, only to withdraw their support.

Employees at TweedLeaf, a network of Colorado dispensaries, are currently awaiting a decision by the National Labor Relations Board on whether they will join UFCW.

“We’re very actively organizing in cannabis,” said Randy Tiffey, organizing director for UFCW 7 in Colorado. “And we’re continuing to have success.”

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