Desperate for Members, Unions Recruit California Pot Workers in Advance of Full Legalization
pic credit: MTTS
And if it's legalized in November? The Teamsters are going to wish they'd thought of this first.
The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including "bud tender" - a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.
"Union bud tender," said Carl Anderson, executive director of AMCD, an Oakland nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary that is going through the city's permitting process. The dispensary has 15 freshly minted union employees as it readies for an expected opening in December. "With full union health benefits and a pension," Anderson said.
With roughly 100 cannabis industry workers in Oakland now in the process of unionizing, the move is mutually beneficial for labor and marijuana advocates.
The union, whose membership is dominated by commercial grocery store workers, retail clerks and some agricultural workers, gets to establish a toehold in a growing new pool of cannabis workers.
While its membership has been stable compared with those representing other sectors of the economy, the local's rolls fell 5 percent last year as a result of layoffs and reduced hours.
A pension! Can you imagine? The sketchy guy selling Mexican shwag out of his van to desperate 17 year olds doesn't have that kind of luxury.