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Cannabis Workers Unionizing Amid Concerns At Illinois Cultivation Center

Published Tuesday, November 12, 2019
by Robert Connelly/
Cannabis Workers Unionizing Amid Concerns At Illinois Cultivation Center

(ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS) - Workers at Green Thumb Industries (GTI) have formed a Union in response to what they call unfair Labor Practices, including unlawful intimidation, harassment and retaliation at the company's Rock Island facility.  Now several Aldermen are asking the city to reconsider its support for companies that receive city tax breaks while violating the law.

GTI Employees stormed out of a recently-held Rock Island City Council meeting to detail their issues at GTI's Cultivation Center in the city, as they say the company has not recognized their Union. 

Kyle Meyer, who said he's worked two years at GTI, told the council there has been mandatory overtime and unfair Labor Practices at the job site: “For months, my Co-Workers and I listened to complaining from managers, supervisors and Co-Workers about losing benefits, having promised raises unfulfilled and a general lack of organization, and that’s when we decided to form a Union.  We ran a clean campaign and we did everything that we were supposed to.  We had majority status and we asked for recognition from GTI on (October 10th), but GTI refused to even get back to us, despite having multiple notices sent to them.”

The Union spat comes at a crucial time for the local Cannabis Industry.

On January 1st, Illinois will legalize sales of recreational marijuana and many are unsure if the state's relatively few licensed suppliers will be able to meet the expected flood of demand.

GTI is a Chicago-based cannabis company that opened in Rock Island in 2015.

Since October 10th, the Teamsters Union has filed four complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against GTI.  The complaints, obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, allege Employees were illicitly polled and questioned coercively about their Union Organizing. 

One complaint alleges that GTI failed to "properly investigate and take preventative measures against workplace harassment and physical threats," and that the company arbitrarily disciplined an Employee in retaliation for Union Activities.

In December, the City Council unanimously approved a $775,000 incentive package to encourage the Chicago-based company to expand in Rock Island.

In August, that package was enlarged by $60,000.

GTI's expansion will double the size of its facility to 66,000 square feet.

Plans also include hiring around 100 Workers.

Documents state that the company currently has more than 50 Workers.

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