Zen Leaf Highland Park Workers Ratify First Union Contract!

Workers Vote UNION YES

Congratulations to the Zen Leaf cannabis workers on winning their first Union contract. They have set the precedence for their fellow workers to have protected rights and fair working conditions.  On December 18th, workers from the Highland Park dispensary voted UNANIMOUSLY to ratify their first Union contract.  

Zen Leaf workers in Highland Park reached out to Local 881 at the end of 2021 out of frustration with many workplace issues at the dispensary. The company’s lack of respect for the workers and their knowledge of cannabis was a driving factor in the organizing campaign.

The dispensary workers faced issues like inconsistent discipline, no communication or accountability, and a lack of confidence in their job security. The workers organized for safety and protection of bargaining unit work.

After their successful vote to join Local 881 in February 2022, Local 881 and the rank-and-file bargaining committee members got to work on negotiating with the company.

Negotiating a First Contract is a Long Road

The Zen Leaf workers faced a rather tough bargaining experience. Off the bat, multiple employees were wrongfully laid off. Local 881 filed NLRB charges and after many months, we were able to successfully reach settlements (which included retro pay) on behalf of the membership. This delayed bargaining, but the negotiation committee was patient and saw it through to the end.

What the Zen Leaf Highland Park workers Won in their contract:

• Guaranteed annual wage increases
• 401k for all employees
• Seniority rights and bargaining unit work protections
• Defined language around working hours and conditions
• A strong grievance procedure to dispute discipline and safety issues
• And much more!

“Standing up for your rights against the unfair working conditions is hard work,” said Steve Powell, Local 881 President. “We are proud to have such strong, dedicated cannabis workers fighting with us for a better future!”

Unionizing provides you with a voice, rights, and safety. Workers in the Cannabis industry deserve a better future. To foster careers for its workers and for growth under fair circumstances. For over a decade, Local 881 has been fighting to ensure that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to our communities. Cannabis workers are joining with Local 881 to make meaningful change to the cannabis industry in Illinois. Local 881 has successfully negotiated for wage increases, paid leave, employee discounts, a robust grievance procedure, and stronger contractual protections for cannabis workers.  

The growing list of Local 881 ratified Cannabis contracts include: Ascend, Cresco, MedMen, Sunnyside, and Windy City Cannabis. 

Mariano’s / Kroger Overpayment Deductions

Your Union has been working on your behalf to demand that the Company fix ALL the errors from their horrible new payroll system.

The Union has answered thousands of calls, opened hundreds of grievances, pursued legal avenues, and filed a formal complaint with the Department of Labor.

As a result of the Union’s pressure, the Company has agreed to take a meaningful step in addressing some of their failures, specifically regarding overpayments.

There were many members that were overpaid and then without any warning or permission the Company snatched that money back causing incredible financial chaos for our members. For those who were affected, the Company has decided to return the overpayments that were suddenly withdrawn.

If you were impacted by an overpayment and surprise withdrawal, your Manager will be contacting you very soon to let you know when and how much you will be refunded.

We will not stop fighting until every Local 881 member gets what they are entitled to. Please contact your Union Representative at 847-294-5064 when you receive this refund or if you have any questions.

The Union is here to protect both you AND your paycheck.

Bargaining Dates

(Revised on 9/16/2022)

The Company has agreed to meet with the Local 881 Negotiation Committee for several bargaining sessions including:

    • Wednesday, September 14
    • Thursday, September 22
    • Friday, September 23
    • Tuesday, September 27

 

Meeting Dates Submitted to Company

The Local 881 Negotiation Committee is eager to get back to the table.

At this time, Local 881 has submitted multiple dates to the Company for Negotiation Meetings. We are waiting for the Company to respond and confirm their availability.

Local 881 Adds Three More Dispensaries to Its Growing Cannabis Union!

Dispensary Workers Across Illinois are Joining Local 881 for Better Cannabis Careers

Workers from The Dispensary in East Dubuque, IL celebrate their election victory!

ILLINOIS – Three more dispensaries have been added to the growing list of workers joining Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Union for Cannabis Workers in Illinois. The recent Union representation elections have occurred in dispensaries across the state including: Maribis (Springfield), The Dispensary (East Dubuque), and Consume (Marion).

Although the workers are from different companies and represent different regions of the state, they are experiencing similar frustrations. The workers have partnered with Local 881 to help establish their voice in the workplace. The workers want to increase their wages and benefits, clarify policies and procedures, and gain the much-needed respect for their numerous contributions to making this industry successful!

On August 18, 2022, Maribis in Springfield, IL UNANIMOUSLY won their election by mail-in ballot. The election will be officially certified with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) within the week.

“I started trying to unionize my workplace to try to protect myself and my coworkers from greedy thoughtless policies that seemed to come down from management every single day.” Skyler Collins – Maribis, Springfield, IL

“The recent behavior by management and owners concerned us and motivated us to organize.  One team, one motivation and that is for our overall betterment! We wanted to be heard and recognized for the work we have done and will continue to do.” Angela Eagan – Maribis, Springfield, IL

On August 9, 2022, The Dispensary in East Dubuque, IL won their election by mail-in ballot. The election was officially certified by the NLRB on August 18, 2022.

“I am so incredibly proud of my work family! We ALL came together and made our voices heard! Thank you UFCW Local 881!”  Dave Oliver – The Dispensary, East Dubuque, IL

On July 18, 2022, Consume Dispensary in Marion, IL won their election by mail in ballot. The election was officially certified by the NLRB on July 29, 2022.

“We make people’s lives better every day with this incredible medicine. We need to fight for our own beliefs when corporations try to turn their backs on us and our patients.” Corey Robinson – Consume Marion

“I want to thank my coworkers for demonstrating what work family really means and Local 881 for welcoming us with open arms. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.” Clara Waltemate – Consume Marion

Dispensary Workers at Consume in Marion, IL

Cannabis workers are joining with Local 881 to make meaningful change to the cannabis industry in Illinois. Local 881 has successfully negotiated for wage increases, paid leave, employee discounts, a robust grievance procedure, and stronger contractual protections for cannabis workers.  Local 881 ratified contracts include: Ascend, Cresco, and Sunnyside. For over a decade, Local 881 has been fighting to ensure that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to our communities. 

To learn more about the fight to improve the cannabis industry in Illinois, visit: ILCannabisWorkersUnited.org

###

Contact:
Teresa Ramirez-Gonzalez, Local 881 Director of Organizing
[email protected] | 847-294-5064, x307

Local 881 UFCW represents 34,000 members employed in retail food and drug stores throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana, cannabis workers in Illinois, as well as a professional division comprised of health and nursing home workers, barbers and cosmetologists, and workers in other retail and service industries. Among the companies under contract with Local 881 are Jewel Food Stores, Osco Drug, Mariano’s, CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Schnucks, Conagra Brands, Cresco, Sunnyside, and many smaller chains and independent stores, and other business establishments. Local 881 is among the largest affiliates of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Tentative Agreement for Jewel Members to be Mailed Soon!

After thorough and careful review, Local 881 has sent the Tentative Agreement Offer for your Union contract to be printed and mailed.

We anticipate voting ballots to be in member mailboxes by mid-August.

Every eligible Jewel member will be mailed the document and have the opportunity to consider the Tentative Agreement Offer and then cast a vote. The members alone will decide the outcome.

Why does the process take so long?

We know you are eager to review the proposed wage increases and improvements. We believe this is a process that should never be rushed! Your Local Union is committed to making sure the voting process is administered in the most efficient, democratic, and equitable manner possible.

The contract is a legal and binding document where each and every word matters. The current Jewel contract has more than 30,000 words and over 1,000 unique wage increments. Even a small mistake can have huge consequences. The preparation of these complex voting documents absolutely has to be correct and that takes time.

I heard we are getting…

Rumors can spread like wild fire. Don’t make a decision based on information that may be false or inaccurate. Wait to see the Tentative Agreement and read for yourself. Then cast your vote!

Should you have any questions we continue to be at your service and invite you to contact your Union Representative at 847-294-5064 to discuss any concerns you have.

Apply for the 2022 UFCW International Scholarship

Every year, the UFCW International Charity Foundation’s scholarship program offers scholarships for Local 881 members OR their immediate family members who want to further their education.

Since 1958, the fund has distributed more than $2 million in scholarships. Past winners have gone on to make significant contributions to society and to the UFCW – entering a range of fields including public service, medicine, law, business and teaching.  Many have returned to the UFCW as staffers, organizers, and community activists who contribute to our mission.

In 2022, the UFCW Charity Foundation will award several scholarships, up to $8,000 each, to UFCW members or their unmarried dependents under the age of 20.

The scholarship application is available online February 14 – May 15, 2022. For more information, and to find out if you are eligible, please visit: ufcwcharityfoundation.org/scholarship.

Apply today!

Curaleaf Cannabis Workers Fight Back by Joining Local 881!

When workers describe 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? The money just keeps rolling in for these cannabis corporations and the workers are clearly not benefiting or being treated as they deserve.

Grace Baffoe, a Product Specialist at the Curaleaf Cannabis Dispensary in Skokie, Illinois, reached out to Local 881 in September when she and her coworkers had reached a breaking point. Like many cannabis workers, Grace was excited to be a part of this growing industry because of her passion for helping people learn about the benefits of cannabis. The cannabis company she had joined had recently been through a corporate merger and was now the world’s largest multi-state cannabis company. As the company grew and evolved, what had been an exciting job opportunity in a promising industry, quickly changed to a very toxic work environment. As Grace explained:

I joined the company with all this hope for what being a part of the cannabis industry could be. But after awhile, it felt like the building had no heart, and no one had a stake in the day-to-day operations. It’s any easy product to sell, people are willing to wait in line. Corporations aren’t compelled to take care of the workers making it happen as long as the money keeps rolling in.

We kept waiting for things to get better. All we heard were false promises. Some of our coworkers got promoted, but then were pitted against each other to battle for who would get the 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!

I have always been a food worker myself. I have family members who were part of the UFCW. I really became sure of Local 881 as a group that could help make cannabis more equitable, because I learned that they helped push through the legalization law in Illinois. I knew that, unlike my corporate bosses, Local 881 had 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.

Grace isn’t alone. Since October, three separate Curaleaf dispensaries (in Worth, Mokena, and Skokie) have voted to join Local 881, because of similar stories of corporate greed and disturbing management practices. Nearly a year into legalization, cannabis workers across Illinois are starting to see the underbelly of working in the industry.

Dispensary workers have reported the following issues:

    • Low wages
    • Hours being cut
    • Union-busting
    • Facility and equipment issues (like toilets that do not flush)
    • Schedules being posted with no advance notice
    • Lack of benefits or job security
    • A ‘Hunger Games’-like approach to promotions and raises
    • Corporate culture that enables manager’s disrespect of workers

Although the cannabis products and environment seem progressive and cutting edge, the cannabis industry business methods are direct from the old school big corporation playbook, doing all they can to make a buck, while squeezing their employees. The cannabis industry needs to be held accountable for how they treat their workers, and the best way to do that is for cannabis workers to join Local 881!

We are incredibly proud of these brave workers who are standing up for positive and meaningful change in this industry and we are proud to support them. Local 881 is proud to be the first and only Union to negotiate Cannabis contracts in Illinois with Cresco Labs in Joliet and with the Sunnyside Dispensary in Chicago (Lakeview). Local 881 has been successful in negotiating wage increases, more paid leave, increased employee product discount, a robust grievance procedure, and stronger protection language for cannabis workers. Local 881 is committed to ensuring that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to the communities when it lobbied for their support for legalization.

If you know someone working in the Cannabis industry. Tell them about Local 881’s fight to improve the Cannabis industry in Illinois, visit: ILCannabisWorkersUnited.org

Mental Health Resources for Local 881 Members

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” might be on the playlist of a lot people during the holiday season, but, unfortunately, it’s a challenging time of year for so many more.

Extra stress, unrealistic expectations, less sunlight, increased financial burdens, changes in diet or routine, the inability to be with loved ones, or even sentimental memories can be a trigger for anxiety or depression. This year, we can also add the ever-present Covid dangers that weigh on the minds of essential workers to our holiday stress list. As much as the holidays can bring joy and merriment, they also can reveal cracks in our mental health and emotional well-being. The reality is everyone is dealing with something and mental health issues aren’t always just a seasonal thing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, close to 1 billion people struggle with mental health issues. The statistics are staggering.

Consider the following:

    • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
    • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
    • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
    • Mental health issues account for $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year in the U.S. economy

Our Union believes that mental health awareness is important for all of us because no one is immune to mental illness, regardless of occupation, gender, ethnicity, or any other marker of your identity. Mental health issues cannot be left at home, so it is vitally important for us to recognize that workplace health and safety should absolutely include mental health support.

A focus on mental health is needed now more than ever. It is critical for employers to provide support to workers who are experiencing struggles with mental health, and to work with employees and the Union to develop an effective workplace mental health strategy.

We are pleased that many of our represented employers offer Employee Assistance Programs that are available to Local 881 members. These consist of confidential hotlines, websites, or other resources to help struggling members get support. Whether you are battling with mental illness, seasonal depression, addiction, disease, stress, relational issues, or anything else please take advantage of the resources we have listed.

As we move towards the season which is based on family and cheer — be sure to keep your loved ones close. Reach out to those who might not have anyone else to reach out to them. And remember something else: it’s okay to not be okay. Just know that you don’t have to be “not okay” by yourself. The more we discuss with one another our personal battles, the more we are reminded that we are not alone – especially this holiday season.

Employee Assistance Programs:

Mariano’s & Kroger
Well Being Assistant
powered by Magellan Health
1-800-547-1442
www.MagellanHealth.com

Jewel-Osco Employee Assistance
Guidance Resources
1-877-294-3271
guidanceresources.com
(Organization Web ID:
Albertsonscompanies)

CVS Employee Helpline
1-888-494-7287
myhr.com

655 Health & Welfare Plan
Member Assistance Program
1-800-832-8302
www.HHHealthAssociates.com

Conagra Health Advocate
Email: [email protected]
1-866-799-2728

National Programs and
Help Lines:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-8255

National Sexual Assault Hotline
(800) 656-4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-7233

The Trevor Project
offers support to the LGBTQ
young adult community

(866) 488-7386

National Alliance on Mental Illness
1-800-950-6264

Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255

May the Odds Be Ever in Favor of Cannabis Workers!

Dispensary workers at Curaleaf Skokie choose Local 881, hoping to improve their ‘Hunger Games’ working environment.

Workers from Curaleaf Skokie celebrate with Local 881 Organizers after their Union election victory!
For Immediate Release

Skokie, IL – On November 18, 2021 cannabis workers at the Curaleaf dispensary in Skokie overwhelmingly won their union representation election and will join Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union for cannabis workers in Illinois. Curaleaf, one of the largest multi-state cannabis companies, currently operates 10 dispensaries in Illinois.

Curaleaf Skokie dispensary workers voted 27-5 to join Local 881 UFCW. This is the third Curaleaf dispensary to join Local 881 in just a few short weeks. Dispensary workers from the Curaleaf locations in Mokena and Worth also voted overwhelmingly to join Local 881 hoping to bring much needed improvements to their dispensaries.

Workers at the Skokie location have reported disturbing practices and trends, including:

    • Toilets that do not flush and other facility and equipment issues
    • Hours being cut
    • Lack of benefits or job security
    • Schedules being posted with little or no advance notice
    • A ‘Hunger Games’ approach to promotions and raises
    • Corporate culture that enables disrespect of workers by management

“We keep waiting for things to get better. All we hear are 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! said Grace Baffoe, Product Specialist at Curaleaf Skokie.

“We believe Local 881 can help us, because they helped push through the legalization law in Illinois. 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. 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,” said Steve Powell, Local 881 UFCW President.

“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.”

Local 881 is proud to be the first and only Union to negotiate Cannabis contracts in Illinois with Cresco Labs in Joliet and with the Sunnyside Dispensary in Chicago (Lakeview). Local 881 has been successful in negotiating wage increases, more paid leave, increased employee product discount, a robust grievance procedure, and stronger protection language for cannabis workers.

Local 881 is committed to ensuring that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to the communities when it lobbied for their support for legalization.

For more information about the fight to improve the Cannabis industry in Illinois, visit: ILCannabisWorkersUnited.org

###

Contact: Teresa Ramirez-Gonzalez, Local 881 Director of Organizing
[email protected] | 630-254-3090