Based on the last 60 years of union decline, it is easy for one to conclude that America’s union movement has been going to pot for many, many years.
However, whether due to sheer desperation or perhaps due to its current leadership having come of age during the 1960s, unions have taken a keen interest in unionizing a budding industry—that of the marijuana industry.
In recent year, while several states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and two have even made the usage of recreational pot legal, federal drug laws regarding marijuana have not changed.
Even though pot is still illegal on the federal level, for the past few years, there has been a “gentlemen’s agreement” between which union gets to unionize what part of the growing marijuana industry—the Teamsters get the growers and the UFCW gets the retail workers. Now, the National Labor Relations Board is asserting its jurisdiction into the budding but still illicit industry as the NLRB appointees under President Obama eagerly help the union cause.
By way of example, the United Food & Commercial Workers has been attempting to unionize workers in a medical marijuana establishment in Maine.
The employer, however, appears to be opposed to unionization and, as a result, workers there are claiming they’ve been retaliated against for trying to unionize and the NLRB has now stepped in.
It is the first time the national board has recognized that federal labor laws apply to employees in the medical marijuana industry.
Last February, workers at a marijuana cultivation site in Auburn operated by Wellness Connection of Maine walked out in protest over the use of pesticides. That led employees to allege additional complaints over safety and working conditions, as well as allegations that supervisors interfered with workers’ interest in joining the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents medical marijuana workers in six other states.
“Only by sticking together, we were able to find the strength to speak out about the gross violations that we saw at work,” Jenifer Moody, a former Wellness employee, said in a statement. “By fighting for our union, we are protecting our customers and shaping the medical marijuana industry into a safe and well-regulated industry that provides good jobs and needed medicine for our community. I am proud of what we workers have done, and glad to see the NLRB validate our charges against this company.” [Emphasis added.]
Although Wellness Connection’s attorney states that there is a settlement of the charges in the works, the union effort has not escaped the attention of one Democratic state lawmaker, who stated:
“I supported efforts to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in Maine because I thought it would bring dignity and safe medicine to our residents along with good jobs to our communities,” said Rep. Peter Stuckey, D-Portland. “Now, the federal government will prosecute Wellness Connection of Maine for breaking federal law by intimidating and attempting to silence workers who were standing up for those principles, if the company refuses to settle. Wellness Connection of Maine needs to respect its workers’ rights and stop this troubling pattern of ignoring both federal and state laws.”
[Apparently, according to Democrat Stuckey’s logic, when communities can’t otherwise provide “good jobs” to their citizens, marijuana is a viable alternative.]
So far, over the last few years, unions have been successful in unionizing some of the pot industry through card check without much interference from the NLRB. However, that appears to have changed.
Now, with at least one unionized pot farm having already gone out of business after California’s Proposition 19 failed to pass in 2011 and the NLRB helping unions unionize both the pot industry, as well as the fast-food industry, as was noted back in 2010, “Now you can Super Size it and smoke a spliff without ever crossing a picket line.”
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com.
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