The Colorado cannabis landscape is shifting, and unionization is coming to the industry. Nature’s Root Labs in Longmont, Colorado just unionized employees through United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Nature’s Root Labs sells CBD to Union Harvest in Florida, a company that then uses the raw product to make cannabidiol-rich CBD offerings for their customers. Now, the business has reached an official agreement with the UFCW that will provide a legal union option for the company’s workers.
“[The] agreement between UFCW and these companies in Longmont, Colorado marks a first of its kind, across-the-board unionized CBD joint venture that sets a precedent for even more workers in the industry to unionize,” claimed the release from UFCW.
Now, following this move, the option is on the table for more cannabis businesses with multiple locations or licenses in other states to unionize. In the past, this has kept businesses from being able to make such a move because of the federal illegality of cannabis and the disconnect between different state laws.
Other states have already started unionizing legal cannabis, including California, another early supporter of both recreational and medical cannabis industries. However, Colorado is a bit behind, as the state only started its first cannabis-related employee union in 2021.
Even Illinois has already managed to unionize. Cresco Labs in Joliet, Illinois voted to unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers in January 2020, making the the first cannabis business in the state to have a union.
Nature’s Root Labs’ Future With UFCW
The workers became part of the UFCW Local 881, and according to Steve Powell, president of that union, the UFCW was “proud of these workers and looks forward to standing with them to negotiate a fair and just contract that will improve their working conditions.”
Now that there is an option for protecting workers rights and legally organizing the cannabis industry, many industry insiders and legal advocates feel this will be a step in a positive direction that will lead to even more industry growth.
“This is going to presumably increase employee benefits and employee wages,” said 9NEWS Legal Analyst Whitney Traylor. “It could lead to costs in other places, but I think the immediate impact that you’re going to see [wil be] more unions pop up in Colorado and other states.”
According to Traylor, this move is not small. It could have a big impact on the entire industry, given the fact that unionizing is something there has been a call for for a while now, but it’s not an easy or straightforward process to get it going.
She explains that the fact that Nature’s Root Labs were able to make this happen, even across state lines between Colorado and Florida, is a big deal and could have larger implications for cannabis unions in general, not just in Colorado.
“Some advocates have said that partnering with a national labor organization got politicians to trust them, because that meant officials were working with a familiar partner,” Traylor said. “I think we’ll see a change in the labor market. How far of a change? How much of a change? Time will tell.””Having a good relationship with our employees is important and a signed union contract is part of that,” Union Harvest Managing Director and Founder Justin Eisenach said in a statement to UFCW. “Now consumers will have a choice when they purchase CBD and can buy USA union-made, union-packed, union-sold products.”
With this bold, new move, the workers at Nature’s Root Labs will be able to move forward with an equitable and fair working environment, and cannabis workers in Colorado and other states will now have more hope of organizing and unionizing in the future.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.