Following an employee strike in Illinois that began just one day before the cannabis holiday of April 20, workers at two facilities owned by Green Thumb Industries have won a 50% wage increase, according to a press release on Tuesday from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
But a Green Thumb Industries GTI (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) spokesperson disputed that assertion on Thursday, and said in an emailed statement that the company “did not offer a wage increase to end the strike or pay employees to cross the picket line.”
Messages seeking comment from the Teamsters were not immediately returned Friday morning, but the strike does appear to be over. This week GTI staff returned to their jobs with the hope that the alleged pay raises spoken of by the Teamsters will be made permanent.
The strike took place at a pair of Rise Cannabis shops in Joliet and Niles, Illinois, and lasted 13 days, the Teamsters said.
“This is just the beginning,” said Jim Glimco, president of Teamsters Local 777 in Chicago. “These brave men and women just undertook the longest strike in the history of the cannabis industry because they’re not afraid of taking a stand.”
The strike began after an alleged violation of federal law when GTI executives told staff they couldn’t wear pro-union buttons while on the job, MJBizDaily reported. That led to a federal complaint filed over alleged union-busting tactics.
A GTI spokesperson wrote in an email to Green Market Report that the company is “pleased to welcome our team members back to work.”
“Negotiations are still ongoing, and an agreement has yet to be reached. Green Thumb did not offer a wage increase to end the strike or pay employees to cross the picket line,” the GTI spokesperson wrote.
“We continue to be deeply disappointed by the misinformation and self-serving guidance that the Teamsters Union is providing to our employees,” the GTI spokesperson wrote. “Green Thumb has and will continue to respect the rights of our employees while following all applicable federal and state labor laws. We remain available and committed to working toward an agreement.”
The Teamsters – as well as other labor unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – have been making inroads with cannabis workers for years, including gains that have required larger companies in several states to sign labor peace agreements, which makes it easier for workers to unionize.