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First Cannabis Labor Union Forms in Pennsylvania

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More than two dozen employees of a medical marijuana company in Pennsylvania have formed the first cannabis labor union in the Keystone State. Around 30 production and laboratory employees and management of Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions signed the labor union with their employer. The business is a manufacturing facility located in Scranton, PA.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions is a subsidiary of Vireo Health, a corporation that currently holds licenses in 11 different markets, including the one in Northeast Pennsylvania. The Vireo Health’s CEO Kyle Kingsley is a supporter of cannabis workers’ right to unionize. 

“As a socially responsible business, Vireo is deeply committed to its employees and is proud to be a union employer,” Kingsley said in a press release. “We believe that a unionized workforce is key to our company’s success and look forward to partnering with UFCW to support legislation, such as legalizing adult-use cannabis, that will help create thousands of new middle-class jobs across the Keystone State.”

Vireo Health also announced in their press release their plan to open three medical cannabis dispensaries in Pennsylvania before the end of 2019. The company expects these retail locations to create up to 20 more jobs where employees would have the opportunity to unionize. Vireo Health also has subsidies in both New York and Minnesota where employees have unionized. 

The 30 employees of Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Solutions join the labor union called United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State (UFCW 1776KS). Earlier this year, Rolling Stone called UFCW ‘America’s Most Powerful Cannabis Union’. UFCW 1776KS’ president Wendell Young IV calls this labor contract a win for workers throughout the cannabis industry. 

“This is a fantastic contract for our members and a great win for the future of all workers in the cannabis industry. I am very proud of the role that UFCW has played in helping to bring collective bargaining to the cannabis industry and help create good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania,” Young said

These employees in Pennsylvania join approximately 10,000 nationwide workers who are currently unionized in the U.S. Most of these unions exist on the west coast, where cannabis has been legal for much longer. But, union representatives throughout the country are confident that more will form as cannabis prohibition slowly dissipates. The hope is that these unions can help further legitimize the cannabis industry as a whole while developing a market that is more favorable for workers and employees.

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