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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is bringing his pro-union message to the marijuana industry.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said on Monday that workers “in the cannabis industry deserve respect and fair wages,” and he encouraged employees of a grow facility owned by the major marijuana company Cresco Labs in Joliet, Illinois “to vote yes for the union on Tuesday.”

“As president, I will lead the fight to double union membership in this country,” he said.

About 100 workers at the cannabis cultivation facility are eligible to vote on unionization in a state where retail marijuana shops opened just weeks ago. While much of the focus has been on Illinois’s massive initial sales and the push for social equity in the market, labor organizers are also keeping a close eye on the industry.

Cresco responded to the senator’s tweet, thanking Sanders for “thinking of our workers.”

“We support our employees’ right to be represented if they wish—the choice is theirs to make and we support the outcome, whatever it may be, of the upcoming union election,” the company said.

A number of individuals pushed back on that tweet, however, alleging that the company has discouraged unionization, in part by classifying growers under a group of workers that are ineligible to vote to organize.

In a press release last month, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881 chapter said they asked Cresco to voluntarily recognize the union but that the company rejected their request. That prompted organizers to file a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

“Workers at Cresco in Illinois report that the Company initiated a full anti-Union campaign against them the moment they started their organizing campaign,” the union said. “Local 881 has charged Cresco with committing numerous violations of federal labor laws,” including intimidating pro-union workers, coercing employees by conferring benefits and soliciting workers grievances.

“The cannabis industry is about to grow enormously in Illinois,” Local 881 President Steve Powell said. “it is very disappointing to see Cresco lowering the standards and expectations of jobs in this industry.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Cresco for comment, but a representative was not immediately available.

“We support our employees’ right to be represented if they wish, while also strongly advocating for their right to vote in a secret ballot election,” Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes told Crain’s Chicago Business. “The choice is theirs, and we support them in whatever decision they make.”

The results of the vote, which will involve Cresco employees who work in packaging, extraction and transportation, are expected to be released on Tuesday evening.

U.S. Senator Visits Illinois Marijuana Dispensary To Talk Social Equity And Banking

Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull.

The post Bernie Sanders Urges Marijuana Industry Workers To Unionize appeared first on Marijuana Moment.