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Cannabis employees debate on if they should unionize

The company says it will only recognize the workers as a union when all employees vote on the decision through The National Labor Relations Board.

ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS  -- Workers in a new industry want to set the standard for the future.

Workers at Green Thumb Industries want to unionize in response to alleged unfair labor practices, including intimidation and harassment.

Employees say they've lost their 401k match from the company and bonuses, but other employees say these claims are false.

"They started taking away benefits and bonuses," employee Anna Almquist said. "I'm a single mom, so every penny I make goes towards taking care of my kid. When they started taking away benefits, it got me, because I am his sole provider."

"We have have great benefits," GTI employee Elizabeth Unger said.

Those for unionizing also say there are parts of the Rock Island Center that are dangerous and safety equipment isn't being provided. Those against say safety is a priority at the cultivation center.

"We have a safety committee in place and any safety concern, we take to that safety committee and they find ways to handle that," Unger said.

Mandatory overtime is another claim to unionize. Workers sat they were required to work overtime or they would lose their jobs.

"When I started, they always said that they were going to promote from within," Almquist said. "That isn't happening."

Other employees in disagreeance say the company does promote from within and rewards the employees every month.

"We get employee voted employee of the month every month," Unger said. "They get a $100 gift card and a fancy lunch anywhere in the Quad Cities."The employees are being backed by the teamsters union and say they want to create regulations for workers to come.

"A lot of us were told we were going to get raises and opportunities to learn more," Almquist said. "That isn't happening."

"I just feel like it is really not needed," Unger said. "All the hassell, I feel like a union is really not needed at all. I feel like it is a great place to work. I feel like we are paid very fairly. I feel like there is so many incentives."

On October 10th, Teamsters asked Green Thumb Industries to recognize the employees as a union, but they say they have not gotten a response.

News Eight reached out the the company and received this statement.

GTI respects the rights of our employees. One of these fundamental labor rights is the right to freedom of association.  The right to freedom of association, however, leaves it to employees to decide whether they wish to be unionized, not an employer or a union to decide for them. Two weeks ago, the union sent a demand-for-recognition letter demanding that GTI recognize the union without an election. GTI has not accepted the union’s demand because we believe that all of the employees at the Rock Island facility should be afforded the right to have a say on if they wish to be represented by the Teamsters union. The union has not requested a vote through the National Labor Relations Board. If they do, GTI will abide by results that demonstrate the will of our employees.”

The company says it will only recognize the workers as a union when all employees vote on the decision through The National Labor Relations Board.

Last month, The Teamsters union filed four complaints with The National Labor Relations Board against GTI. The complaints allege that employees were illegally polled about union support and punished for wanting to unionize.

In 2018, the Rock Island City Council approved an proposal for the company to expand. The expansion package was for more than $700,000.