Teamsters are calling on Green Thumb Industries (GTI) to address its workers' safety concerns in response to the news that a staff member tragically passed away at the company's Rock Island grow operation on Friday, July 14.
It is at least the second time a worker at a cannabis grow operation has died on the job in the U.S. Workers at GTI have filed at least five complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alleging serious safety and health violations, including two complaints that are under investigation at the Rock Island location. GTI has been previously cited by OSHA at other facilities for health and safety violations.
"While it's still too early to conclusively determine the circumstances that led to this individual's untimely death, what we do know is that there have been significant concerns about occupational hazards at this operation – particularly regarding respiratory health – in the past," said Jim Glimco, President of Teamsters Local 777. "We also know that those concerns haven't always been adequately addressed when brought to the attention of higher-ups. GTI needs to take drastic and immediate action to address the safety concerns of its workforce. This includes allowing them to unionize and bargaining in good faith so the workers can enforce safety standards through a union contract."
According to Teamsters, GTI has demonstrated a consistent lack of respect for the concerns of their workforce, even in comparison to other large multi-state operators. "The company egregiously violated federal law at the Rock Island facility during a union organizing drive in 2021, and again both during and after an unfair labor practice strike earlier this year, the longest such strike at a cannabis retailer in U.S. history. After the tragedy that occurred last week, GTI reportedly threatened one of the Rock Island workers for posting about what happened on his social media account."
"Given this employer's recent labor record, we weren't surprised to hear that the company is alleged to have threatened retaliation against a worker for exercising their right to engage in concerted activity," said Peter Finn, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Food Processing Division. "The Teamsters stand in solidarity with the workers of Rock Island as they mourn the loss of their friend and co-worker. GTI needs to focus less on its bottom line and more on the welfare of its workforce."
"As a former GTI worker, me and many others at the Rock Island facility had serious safety concerns that weren't addressed," said Magen Townsend, Teamsters International Organizer. "Lack of air filtration, proper ventilation, and safety equipment were among our primary issues. GTI needs to be held accountable for refusing to acknowledge these serious concerns and putting workers at risk."
For more information:
Teamsters Local 777