How marijuana business owners, organized labor can live in peace

 (This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the April issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

Cannabis business owners increasingly must confront a workplace reality that mainstream companies have faced for generations: organized labor.

Front and center is the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which is aggressively seeking cannabis workers to join its ranks.

The UFCW said it aims to organize cannabis workers in every state where marijuana is legal and that it already represents “tens of thousands” of MJ workers in multiple states.

Union members include employees in cultivation facilities, dispensaries, infused product companies and labs.

The Teamsters and United Farm Workers also are trying to organize marijuana industry workers.

In California, it will be difficult for many marijuana businesses to avoid dealing with unions.

The Golden State requires that marijuana business licensees with at least 20 employees strike a “labor peace agreement” with a union. Such a pact can ultimately pave the way for unionization.

New York has a similar labor peace agreement requirement for marijuana businesses.

Unions also are making inroads in other states where cannabis is legal, so it’s never too early for business owners to start thinking about how they might approach labor peace agreements.

Click here to learn more about:

  • The ABCs of labor peace agreements.
  • Hiring a lawyer.
  • Creating a simple peace agreement.
  • What a peace pact should include.
  • What to avoid in a peace agreement.
3 comments on “How marijuana business owners, organized labor can live in peace
  1. Pat on

    “Cannabis business owners increasingly must confront a workplace reality that mainstream companies have faced for generations: organized labor.”

    This doesn’t need to be the case. If the state would license to small growers ( easily up to 1/2 acre of canopy ); small dispensaries, etc. as a priority; there would be no need for union involvement in those businesses.

    “In California, it will be difficult for many marijuana businesses to avoid dealing with unions.”

    One has to wonder why this is the case. It doesn’t need to be. And it shouldn’t be “the case.” Again, if the state of ca. awarded licenses to businesses with 19 employees or less; unions would be much less of an issue. Many small businesses choose that model because they want more control, less hassle, arguably less govt. intrusion, and mostly, more profit to keep for themselves.

    “The Golden State requires that marijuana business licensees with at least 20 employees strike a “labor peace agreement” with a union.”

    So, has the state of ca. broken down by numbers of employees a business has that has already been awarded a license? If so, what percentage of these businesses have in excess of 20 employees, compared to those that have 19 or less? At this juncture, it seems that the vast majority of licensees are the one’s that have an excess of 20+ employees. If so, this makes it much easier for govt. and a union to control that particular business in an unreasonable and unnecessary manner, via disproportionate tax rates, permit fees, etc…and currently unjustified and unsustainable labor costs/benefits. Esp. for a small farming operation. In this scenario, there really isn’t much left for the farmer. However, the govt. and the union get their money largely, for nothing. A lot of money. It’s a set-up for the unwitting taxpayer, as the black market will likely thrive under these conditions. Throwing good money after bad when the calls for more “enforcement” coming likely from the regulators and the Teamsters crying foul, not because those growers are proven to be actually damaging the environment or affecting the communities public health in an adverse manner; or, because public safety has been compromised to the degree of requiring a police action. No sir. It’s really none of that. It’s really because those regulatory agencies and the unions’ PROFITS by and large are being compromised. Just watch.

    This could explain, in large part, why the Teamsters were part of the insider group of special interests that devised the current law. For instance, if the ( largely made up ) regulatory hurdles are so extreme/demanding when it comes to cost, that only really, really wealthy ( no matter how that wealth was acquired… so long as you have the money, it’s all good.. ) entities are going to be able to get “back” in the game. That usu. means as a caveat, that you have in excess of 20 employees. If this is at all true, it’s clearly discrimination against the vast majority that were doing their business legally prior to MACMRSA. Again, if licenses were being awarded to the smallest businesses as a priority, this would directly work against the interests of the Teamsters, the govt. regulators, and the legislators that put this legislation together.

  2. Barry Broad on

    Unfortunately, Pat doesn’t really understand what unions do. They don’t “control” businesses, they make sure employees are represented on the job. In an industry, like the cannabis industry, where workers routinely work with dangerous chemicals, where many employers have no workers’ compensation insurance, where some growers have even made workers work without their clothes, employees need the protection of unions. Unions can only represent workers if the majority of workers democratically choose to be represented. Perhaps people like Pat should have a little more sympathy for industry workers and worry a little less about their own greed.

    • Pat on

      Pat understand unions. Unions in the cannabis industry aren’t really necessary, if licensing is granted to 19 or less employee businesses. We’re talking cannabis. Not large skilled labor groups like nursing, linemen, electricians, etc.. So, it sounds like Barry thinks that if businesses w/less than 19 employees are going to screw their employees w/regard to workers compensation insurance, their coming into contact w/dangerous chemicals, make them work w/no clothes on ( maybe you should read “Emperor’s New Clothes..” ); etc… If that 19 or less entity is licensed by the state, there are longstanding regulations in place that regulate all those things you mention. The state ( and all those agencies ) will be inspecting and those employees can take their grievances to the regulators via a complaint. They can also leave and go work for a business w/greater than 20 employees that’s already unionized. If those employees aren’t being treated properly according to state standards, they have recourse. They don’t need a union for that. So, once a business crosses the 20+ employee threshold, all of the sudden a union is necessary to address your concerns? Unions don’t work for free. Do you really think that an employee at a 19 or less business making $12/hr is going to be making $12/hr at a business w/20+ that voted for unionization? Do you think a business w/19 or less employees are going to be treated poorly? Seems to be the assumption you’re making. All things being equal? Of course not. Pat has sympathy for industry workers, but not for unreasonable union demands when the switch flips to 20+. The point is Barry, is unionization is largely unnecessary, if small cultivators are issued licenses as a priority. And, yes, they shouldn’t have to share any of their earnings with anyone but themselves and their workers. A mom/pop shop w/10,000ft canopy or less can do the job easily with less than 3 employees and perhaps some seasonal help at harvest. These are the people that got shut out. And, it’s largely the point. The vast majority ( the 99% ) who can’t do it now. You seem to forget that piece of the pie. As it is ( even w/o unions ) the small farmer looks to be screwed in large part because of all of the agencies that want a piece of this and their associated costs; much less union involvement.


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