In an unprecedented labour movement in Arizona’s nascent cannabis industry, workers and supporters gathered in a fiery rally outside Curaleaf’s Dispensary Midtown in Phoenix on Friday to protest against alleged labour rights violations and to demand better working conditions.
The protest marks a crucial moment since the legalisation of cannabis in Arizona in November 2020, highlighting growing concerns over worker rights within the rapidly expanding sector.
The epicentre of the protest was the alleged unjust dismissal of Christian Tallabas, reportedly due to his union activities and the lack of progression in union contract negotiations, despite workers voting in favour of unionising over a year ago.
The protest garnered support from significant figures, including state representatives Annalise Ortiz and Mariana Sandoval, who both praised the workers’ courage and emphasised the universal right to dignified working conditions.
Nick Frederickson, a prominent figure in the movement and a Curaleaf employee, articulated the frustration of many workers regarding the sluggish pace of negotiations, the lack of pay transparency, and several other labour violations that Curaleaf has been accused of.
His journey towards advocating for unionisation began with personal reflection on the broader industry conditions during a moment of cannabis use at home.
Inspired by stories of other unionisations, Frederickson has since become a vocal critic of the company’s alleged failures to uphold labour rights.
Meanwhile, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 has been spearheading the drive for better pay, benefits, and safer working conditions.
The union was evidently displeased with the Phoenix police’s interference during the rally, underlining the escalating tensions between workers and authorities.
The company emphasised its dedication to fostering a collaborative work environment where employees feel heard and respected.
As the rally progressed, despite the sweltering heat, the crowd fervently chanted slogans, holding signs with catchy phrases urging for an end to corporate greed in the cannabis industry.
The strike of cannabis workers in Phoenix marks a significant step in the burgeoning labour movement within the sector, with workers standing united to demand justice and fair treatment, thereby setting a precedent for future labour actions in the state’s cannabis industry.