Workers at a cannabis retail facility in Battle Creek, Mich., haven’t even opened their doors to the public yet, but they already voted to form a union with support from their store owner.
Heritage Provisioning employees will host a grand opening April 20 for their new facility in the southwest part of the state—about 20 miles east of Kalamazoo—but they decided to celebrate early with a unionization announcement on April 18.
Heritage has two other provisioning center locations, in East Tawas and Manistee, but the Battle Creek workers agreed to authorize the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 for union representation, according to a UFCW press release.
“I’m really excited to be a part of something bigger than just myself,” Riley Boles, a worker at Heritage Provisioning, said in the release. “My dad is a union member and I’m proud to not only become one also, but to make history as the first UFCW 951 organized cannabis facility.”
Workers at the dispensary unanimously signed up to join the Local 951 and will form a committee that will soon start to bargain for their first contract they hope represents a lasting career in the industry, according to the release.
The UFCW 951 labor union represents more than 28,000 workers across Michigan in a variety of industries, including grocery, retail, food processing and pharmacy. Those workers are employed at companies such as Meijer, Kroger, Rite Aid and many others.
Cannabis workers are now among those whom the union represents.
“UFCW 951 is committed to raising the standards for all workers in this unique and rapidly developing industry,” John Cakmakci, UFCW 951 president, said in the release. “We celebrate with the workers today and look forward to bargaining a contract that will give them the guarantees and protections in the workplace they deserve, along with competitive wages and quality health care. I’m excited and hopeful this will serve as a pathway to expanding union coverage to include more workers in the cannabis industry.”
The retail workers in Battle Creek join a growing wave of cannabis unionization in places like St. Louis, Somerset, Mass., Manistee, Mich., Portsmouth, R.I., Victoria, British Columbia, Hanover, Mass., Warwick, R.I., Joliet, Ill., Fall River, Mass., Skokie, Ill., and others.
In Battle Creek, the provisioning center is owned and operated by William McKenzie, CEO and founder of Left Coast Holdings, a company that is expanding with multiple dispensaries throughout Michigan.
McKenzie offered his support of the Battle Creek workers’ unionization effort, according to the UFCW 951 press release.
“We see our company values strongly aligned with those of the UFCW,” McKenzie said. “It felt like a synergistic move to partner with the union; creating a platform where people can get a good paying job that turns into a career.”