Union Makes Headway in Oregon’s Cannabis Industry

A major union has recently carved out a tiny foothold in Oregon’s cannabis market and hopes to increase its membership in the state dramatically down the road.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) now represents a handful of workers at  the West Salem Cannabis and Hi Casual Cannabis dispensaries. The union, however, says that more than 40 marijuana businesses in Oregon have reportedly expressed interest in joining its local chapter, which covers the entire state as well as southwestern Washington State.

Provisions in contracts for workers represented by the UFCW include wage guarantees, regular raises, healthcare, safety requirements and retirement options. Union advocates say that these guarantees are especially important in an industry where employees don’t yet have federal worker protections.

The UCFW is a national organization with 1.3 million members in the United States and Canada, including about 3,000 workers in the medical and recreational marijuana sectors. It has even created a division called Cannabis Workers Rising.

Cannabis businesses whose employees unionize can experience benefits – such as improved morale – and drawbacks, including higher costs.

Lance Compa, a senior lecturer at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told the Statesman-Journal that he’s not surprised cannabis workers are unionizing – just at how fast it’s happening.

Workers in the auto and other 20th century industries took decades to unionize. “In these new sectors, it’s being telescoped into a matter of months or one or two years,” Compa said.

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3 comments on “Union Makes Headway in Oregon’s Cannabis Industry
  1. Vito P. on

    Off hand, I would say business owners should welcome a union presence in the cannabis industry. Unions know all about workplace standards and safety practices and can spare the business owner a huge amount of worry about legal compliance for their employees. I’d rather have a disgruntled employee complain to the union than file an action with OSHA or the state labor authority.

  2. Seth Tyrssen on

    So, the same union that protects workers involved in organized animal cruelty on a massive scale — the “food industry” — is now trying to get into Sacred Herb? JUST SAY NO, to coin a phrase. Unions came into existence to fight back against abuse and oppression. Those conditions do not exist in the cannabis industry. Anything they know about “safety” can be learned elsewhere. I’ll bet the animals that die in terror, and suffer under horrendous conditions, don’t benefit from that “knowledge.” In fact … just say HELL, NO. All one need do is look to Costco or Publix to see how labor and management can work together as a TEAM. That’s how it ought to be. Unions will stir up trouble where none existed, mark my words.

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