It’s a sure sign that the cannabis industry will be a big one in California: Labor unions are poised to represent the employees — from field workers to rollers to drivers to retailers — working in the business.
According to a story published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times:
The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labor’s lagging membership — if infighting doesn’t get in the way.
The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez, says that organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit, and that growers could label their products with the union’s logo as a marketing strategy.
“If you’re a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you,” national Vice President Armando Elenes said.
Other labor unions are also examining the possibility. The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents grocery store employees, meat packers and retail workers, plans on organizing workers. “We would hope they respect our jurisdiction,” UFCW spokesman Jeff Ferro told the Times.
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Last year, the City College of San Francisco teamed up with Oaksterdam University —a ground-breaking marijuana trade school located across the bay in Oakland —and the UFCW to create a unique de facto apprenticeship program in the school’s Pharmacology Technology department.
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The UFCW represents 1.3 million members nationally, with most of its workers in the grocery, pharmacy and retail business. Labor leaders estimate recreational cannabis in the Golden State could employ at least 100,000 workers. California has the largest number of unionized workers in the US.