MOCA in River North became the fourth recreational cannabis dispensary in Illinois to unionize, and the first to join the Teamsters, as the weed unionization movement continues to take root.
Nearly 30 so-called budtenders — marijuana product specialists — voted Thursday to join Teamsters Local 777, the union said, seeking to protect existing pay and benefits after both locally owned Chicago MOCA dispensaries were sold to Ascend Wellness Holdings in December.
“The workers want to keep what they have and they want to add to what they’re getting,” said Jim Glimco, president of Lyons-based Local 777, which primarily represents light manufacturing workers and school bus drivers in northern Illinois.
Workers at MOCA’s other dispensary in Logan Square are planning to hold an election on whether to join the Teamsters, likely next month, Glimco said.
A publicly traded, New York-based multistate cannabis company, Ascend Wellness Holdings operates four Ascend dispensaries and two MOCA dispensaries in Illinois. It is awaiting regulatory approval for a December acquisition of the Midway Dispensary in Chicago and the Ascend by Midway dispensary in Chicago Ridge.
An Ascend spokesman declined to comment Friday.
The Illinois weed industry, fresh off surpassing $1 billion in revenue during its first year of recreational marijuana sales, has