Linking Up With Labor Unions: Cannabis Industry Employment Trend

As the cannabis industry takes off nationwide, it’s creating new jobs for thousands of individuals in each state. From cultivation to ancillary business services, these employees keep the industry moving. However, there are still many workplace issues that need to be straightened out, specifically in terms of protecting workers who retail the plant to patients and the public – which is still technically illegal under federal law.

Luckily, the worker’s rights and cannabis movements are closely aligned. Just as early labor unions gave us the 40-hour workweek, breaks, overtime, benefits, restrictions on child labor, paid sick leave and vacation, now the legal cannabis industry is starting to see the value in unionization, organizing around the specific needs that are unique to our space.

The bottom line is that employees of cannabis retail shops desire the same protections enjoyed by foodservice and other commercial workers, making the United Food & Commercial Workers’ Union  (UFCW) a natural choice for the cannabis industry.

The first-ever union contract for a cannabis organization was voted on and signed by workers at Cannabis Club Collective in Tacoma, Wash. in June of this year, setting a standard for the industry. Now, more Tacoma-area shops are following suit and submitting applications to the UFCW Local 367, and the trend is growing in California, Oregon, Colorado, and other states as well.

“We’re going to set a high bar for our industry with a contract that’s fair to both workers and to owners,” Tim Moisio, General Manager of Cannabis Club Collective, said in a statement. “Cannabis jobs should be good, family-supporting jobs and our contract ensures that.”

Benefits of unionization are apparent in the time employees are able to spend with their families due to paid vacation and sick leave. Workers are also nozw able to obtain medical benefits for themselves and their families, as well as set up pension plans.

“Workers have rights regardless of the industry they are in,” Denise Jagielo, president of UFCW Local 367, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the members at Triple C, and other dispensaries, to protect their wages and benefits, and to create a safe work environment.”

“Workers have rights regardless of the industry they are in,” Denise Jagielo, president of UFCW Local 367, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the members at Triple C, and other dispensaries, to protect their wages and benefits, and to create a safe work environment.”

UFCW has set up a new website and special branch of its operations dedicated to cannabis retail workers. In addition, some smaller, cannabis-focused unions are beginning to form. With this new trend comes a need for diligence on the part of the employers, to ensure compliant employment practices under National Labor Relations Board regulations.

Joining up with mainstream labor unions shows that our space is growing, changing with the times, and ensuring that individuals interested in working with the cannabis plant can be gainfully employed and have protected rights, just like workers in any other industry.

  • Michael Vogt

    To declare cannabis legal is the easy part. It’s a decision. What follows next is big business will step in which was previously reserved about entering the market. The purpose is to get a share of the new gold, buy-outs, mergers, takeovers in the name of making another dollar. Those who previously condemned the use of cannabis quickly become supporters of it enriches them.
    This need not be. Here is a chance to do it right for everyone involved, mostly the consumer, be it recreational or medical. Don’t let big business steel away the chance for the average American to become part of this weed rush! I rather see government dictating the software to be used to keep better control, but keep the monetary requirements to become a dispensary low rather than moving it slowly over to established large enterprises who can afford to by everything and everyone.
    Employee rights are just the beginning of a longer integration period until cannabis is just another product line, however there enough differences to other industry sectors that will require ingeniouity. Very interesting times ahead.