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Workers voted 58-32 on Tuesday to join Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

A UFCW news release called the vote “precedent setting” and said “Cresco workers are sending a message that the cannabis industry lives up to the promises it made to the communities when it lobbied for their support.”

UFCW Local 881 President Steve Powell said in a statement that the union “is proud of these workers and looks forward to standing with them to negotiate a fair and just contract that will improve their working conditions.”

The UFCW already represents about 10,000 cannabis workers nationwide and is in the process of organizing employees at other cannabis facilities in Illinois, said Zach Koutsky, legislative and political director for Local 881.

The Cresco Lab workers in Joliet contacted Local 881 in September after being unable to resolve workplace equity issues “the traditional way,” Koutsky said.

Other issues include wages and health care costs.

“The wages four such a profitable company are low,” Koutsky said. “They have health care provided by the company, but it’s very expensive.”

The UFCW unit will include 100 of the 130 workers at the plant, Koutsky said.

They are the first Cresco employees at the Joliet facility to join the union. But Koutsky said contracted security staff at the plant are unionized through their company.

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