JEFFERSON CITY — Workers at a medical marijuana dispensary in St. Louis have voted to organize, becoming the first cannabis workers in Missouri to do so, a local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers said Monday.
All eight workers in the negotiation unit at Root 66 Pharmacy in South Grand voted to have the UFCW represent them in contract negotiations with management, according to a union press release.
“Cannabis workers across the country are voting to join a union because they know it’s the best way to secure good wages and benefits at work,” said David Cook, president of UFCW Local 655.
“Workers need economic security and fair treatment in the workplace, and cannabis workers are no different,” he said. “We are committed to helping cannabis workers across Missouri.”
Root 66 chief operating officer Joseph Delia did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The official name of the company is GF Wellness.
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Local 655 said workers raised concerns about wages, paid sick leave and vacation time during the union campaign.
“When policy changes are made, we deserve to understand why, and right now it feels like they can just change things whenever they want and that makes it difficult for us,” Prinz said Israel, one of the pharmacy employees, in the news release.
“The benefits are also very important to us,” he says. “We really like what we do and we want these jobs to be good jobs for all of us.”
The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
A spokeswoman for the federal agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The UFCW has been trying to organize cannabis workers in Missouri since last fall, the Post-Dispatch reported at the time.
An attempt earlier this year to unionize workers at Swade Pharmacy in Grove failed, according to the union, and a petition for a union election there was withdrawn.
Local 655 also represents workers from Schnuck Markets and Dierbergs Markets, among other local businesses.
The union effort comes as Missouri voters may consider full legalization of marijuana later this year.
The Legal Missouri 2022 campaign, backed by established medical marijuana companies, faces a May 8 deadline to submit enough signatures for a November vote.
The proposed constitutional amendment allows the state to keep current restrictions on full marijuana business licenses.
Lawmakers are also considering the so-called “Cannabis Freedom Act,” or House Bill 2704, which was approved by the House Public Safety Committee last week and awaits debate before the entire Missouri House.
The original legislation did not restrict the industry. Lawmakers amended the bill last week to require the state to issue twice as many full legalization licenses as it has issued under the current medical marijuana program.
House of Representatives Shamed Dogan joint Resolution 83, which would bring the legalization issue to voters in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment, is scheduled to be heard Tuesday in the House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Criminal Justice.