Opinion: What is a labor peace agreement, and is it good for the cannabis industry?

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Image of former Green Dragon employees picketing at the Denver company.

Former Green Dragon employees picket at the company's marijuana cultivation facility in Denver. (Photo by Jimena Peterson, UFCW)

Image of Jim Araby
Jim Araby

(This opinion piece responds to another contributed column, “Opinion: Cannabis business owners should negotiate labor peace agreements before signing.”)

Cannabis companies operate in a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment, and labor disputes can have a significant impact on business operations, leading to lost revenue, reputational damage and even regulatory sanctions.

Labor peace agreements establish a period when a workers’ union agrees not to strike, picket or otherwise disrupt an employer’s business operations, and the employer agrees not to engage in any actions that would undermine the union’s ability to organize the workforce.

Such agreements can help to promote stability, productivity, social responsibility, public safety and long-term sustainability in the cannabis industry by establishing a collaborative relationship between employers and workers.

Collective bargaining, facilitated by labor peace agreements, provides workers with a voice in the workplace and the ability to negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

By collaborating with workers, employers can gain valuable insights into the needs and concerns of their workforce and develop policies and practices that promote productivity and job satisfaction.

This can help to reduce turnover, improve morale and enhance overall productivity.

Additionally, recognizing the value that frontline workers bring to the table can further establish employee buy-in.

By establishing labor peace agreements, employers can demonstrate a commitment to fair labor practices and social responsibility while providing workers with the right to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

This can help to promote social and economic equity in the industry while reducing the risk of exploitation and abuse.

The cannabis industry requires workers to be knowledgeable and skilled in a variety of areas, including safety, security and compliance.

Labor peace agreements can help to promote public safety by establishing standards for worker training and certification.

States such as California already have passed laws that mandate safety training.

By collaborating with workers and labor unions, employers can develop training programs and certification standards to ensure that workers have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

As the cannabis industry matures and becomes more regulated, labor peace agreements can provide a framework for the sector to develop in a way that is consistent with the values of social and economic equity, environmental responsibility and public safety.

By establishing a period of labor peace – facilitating collective bargaining, promoting fair labor practices, establishing standards for training and certification and promoting long-term sustainability – labor peace agreements can be a first step in helping to ensure that the cannabis industry is a source of stable, well-paying jobs for workers and a force for good in the communities it serves.

Jim Araby is the strategic campaigns director for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, which represents 1,000 cannabis workers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at jaraby@ufcw5.org.

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