Cannabis Unions – GTI Workers Unite for Rights
Cannabis unions are gaining in popularity. While the cannabis industry is still in its nascency and hopeful entrepreneurs try to cling to any piece of the green rush that they can, many workers’ rights are being overlooked. Cannabis still remains federally illegal, and many governing bodies don’t have an airtight infrastructure for cannabis businesses which leaves Human Resources departments operating in what resembles the Wild West. Organizer and former GTI employee, Daniel Corral, joined us to discuss why cannabis unions are important and the rights these organized workers demand.
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What is 3C Naperville Workers in Unity for Safety for All?
Cannabis unions like what 3C Naperville Workers in Unity for Safety for All is quickly becoming, form because they feel their rights are in jeopardy. COVID-19 has highlighted a lot of the fractures that we have in our infrastructure. In March, when COVID-19 really hit and there was still a bit of uncertainty about how we can “bend the curve”, many businesses pivoted to curb-side assistance or delivery. Unfortunately, these employees had to fight to get curbside-only sales and PPE. Luckily the kind patients at their location donated PPE to the workers but they didn’t receive any PPE from GTI until the workers reported GTI to OSHA. But COVID-19 opened up a bag of worms of what’s actually happening within the company.
What do these GTI workers demand?
- Curbside-only sales at all our stores and clinics, along with all other proper health and safety measures in response to the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic.
- Transparency and effective communication.
- Fairness and respect in all areas of work and processes.
- Just and equal compensation for the physical/emotional/intellectual labor and time the employees work.
- An equal voice on the job especially for decisions that affect workers and patients/clients.
- Staff development and support.
- Fair and just hiring practices and promotions.
- More diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As well as more social equity when it comes to hiring.
- Conflict resolution processes such as talking circles and workshops.
- Fair and just distribution of profits already being made, without raising prices for products and medicines.
- Due processes in the workplace and mediation practices instead of GTI management and corporate firing and harassing employees for things such as personal feelings and popularity.
- Protections against sexual harassment, intimidation, racism, discrimination, violence, and bullying.
- Consistent and fair policies: full-time status is granted to employees via a process that is irrational and unfair.
- They demand GTI to enter into an agreement with the workers that safeguards their rights, health, and dramatically improves their standard of living.
- The implementation of measures in place that afford the workers healthy, happy, and secure lives so they can thrive.
- They demand GTI to remain neutral and respect their right to fair and free union elections.
GTI Grower Statement
A former GTI grower submitted a statement about his time at the organization.
“My time at GTI had turned from a “family culture” atmosphere to where they wanted you to get to know new hires to turnover becoming high either from people being laid off to people starting to quit, so they just started pumping new faces in every week that I started to become unfamiliar with the workplace because of so many new faces.
The constant pressure from corporate and their goal unmasked a million-dollar expansion in the face of a global pandemic and working on the grow side of things, I started seeing how filling rooms for an expansion were more important than your workers health and mental health. It went from what felt like growing cannabis to producing it even with the world falling apart all around you.
There was never any support or care from the CEO, it was just emails pretty much saying “thank you for making me richer” and with that, us growers that they speak so highly of at the Danville plant that they told constantly “are the most important people” of the facility were treated like those words were lies. The compensation for the amount of work and money GTI makes, but investors come first were disheartening because most growers I worked with still had to work second jobs. This entire pandemic has been financially hard for everyone, but the people that GTI “cares” about the most, their growers had to constantly adapt, work and manage more work due to teams being split for COVID reasonings, they failed to at least offer some type of support for doing just an intense job in indoor heat of 80-degree rooms.
The leadership people looked for wasn’t there, not from management or corporate because their focus was too busy making sure that construction could stay underway for their new expansion. And after us growers filled rooms and busted ass for Ben K, he strolls in with his little posse, looks at the new room, doesn’t even say thank you, leaves and flies off to his next project. GTI for sure cares about its people and patients, at least that’s what they’ll sell you. Their reviews on Indeed.com were consistent for a reason, I should have taken them as a warning. That goes for most GP’s, they care for money over workers and patients, it isn’t just GTI. I know people in other GP’s in the state of PA, the cannabis is white liberal male-dominated and the name of the game is to make as much money as possible while exploiting workers for less while they make you millions a week, my last month with GTI Danville they brought in 5mil in a month. But we still get paid $14.50 throughout the entire facility because again, investors. GTI has taught me a lot. But if your passion is cannabis, be careful to not let the corporate world taint it.
And one last thing, the diversity was horrible and GTI picked its few Black people strictly for image. And they have failed to help repair damage to communities of color from the war on drugs, Danville is in-between areas that have Black and people of color, but they still managed to run a facility with four Black men, two they fired, I quit and one is left. This past Juneteenth, they made sure to let us know that a world being destroyed and redesigned by the death of George Floyd was their priority to care by allowing us to use our PTO for a mental health day…they’ve always made and never took the actual job of cannabis growing into consideration, I work in small teams to produce the millions that GTI makes, I worked in mother in clones, I produced the plants. If I took off last minute because that’s what option I had thanks to Ben K sending that email at days end on the east coast on June 18th, my one other partner would have had to manage an entire area single-handed and still be expected to clone to keep things on target to meet deadlines. She would have had to do so, and whereas I already struggled mentally during this pandemic and trying to keep up with GTI’s constantly policy changes and schedule switches plus juggle my own life, I could have used the mental health day, but as my other Black co-worker took time, I felt obligated to helping GTI keep their mission because ultimately I did what I did to heal patients like myself, not make someone millions. And that’s the difference.”
– Keith, Former GTI Grower