Although the nearly two-week strike at several Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) facilities by unionized workers has concluded, the Illinois-based multistate operator is still negotiating with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters over employment terms for many of its workers.
The company could also face financial repercussions from 10 federal complaints filed by the union with the National Labor Relations Board in conjunction with the strike, Teamsters representatives told Green Market Report last week.
Among the complaints are allegations that Green Thumb engaged in:
- Bad-faith bargaining.
- “Coercive actions” such as illegal surveillance.
- Retaliation against employees for participating in the strike.
- The illegal promotion of several employees – including raises – to lure them off the picket line.
- Mandating that workers remove pro-union buttons that had “been permitted for months.”
23-05-04 GTI (Wage increase) FILED
The first of the complaints was filed April 13. Several more were filed in ensuing weeks, with five complaints filed May 5, several days after the strike ended.
“The strike gave us an enormous number of opportunities to go to the (NLRB),” said attorney David Suetholtz, who represents the Teamsters, during an interview on May 9.
“Huge, Huge Issue”
Among those opportunities is one the Teamsters said could force GTI to offer the same compensation that was offered to non-striking employees, in the form of a temporary wage increase of $8 per hour.
That, Suetholtz said, was a “big mistake” by GTI and opened the door for the Teamsters to force the company to give the same compensation to all its other workers at the same facilities via the federal complaints.
“During the strike, our members maintained connections with some of their coworkers, who for various reasons decided to work behind the lines,” Suetholtz said. “And what we learned was that the employer had increased peoples’ wages by 50%, by $8 an hour. That has been confirmed as of today through an information request that we served on the company.”
A spokesperson for GTI called the complaints “baseless claims” in an emailed statement.
“While the Teamsters have engaged in public stunts like these, we have remained focused on the bargaining table out of respect for our employees,” the spokesperson wrote.
Still, the complaints could be a “huge, huge issue” for GTI, said New York employment lawyer Ruth Kraft.
“There’s a whole panoply of remedies the NLRB has. They can require reinstatement, back wages, liquidated damages, the NLRB can declare a labor practice illegal, and they can sanction a company for engaging in those practices,” Kraft said. “It’s very, very serious. … They can require remediation and require reinstatement, and serious monetary damages.”
Changed Union Climate
Kraft said it’s hard to tell which way the NLRB might lean with complaints such as those filed by the Teamsters, but that under the Biden administration, it’s more likely that the findings will be pro-worker or pro-union than under former President Donald Trump, since the board’s composition flipped to a different majority when Biden took office.
“The unions felt like they were in a chokehold during the Trump years, and they felt like they were going down the tubes,” Kraft said. “In this era, when you have Biden and a 3-2 majority in the NLRB, a lot of employees and collective bargaining units are realizing, maybe this is the moment.”
The timeline for an outcome is also unclear, though Suetholtz predicted that the agency will likely have resolved the complaints by July. Kraft, however, said it could take much longer, depending on the details of each claim.