The United Commercial and Food Workers Union represents 10,000 cannabis employees in 14 states. The UCFW has helped legitimize the movement in Sacramento and D.C. and negotiated major worker contracts with big companies such as MedMen. A progressive pipe dream realized.
But the UFCW has been gathering power for nearly a decade and is no longer an underdog. As tends to happens with organized labor whose clout is on the rise, the number of foes stepping up to criticize how UCFW gets down is growing.
- Advocates acknowledge that joining the UFCW finally got politicians to trust them. Six years ago, the UCFW got the NLRB to acknowledge cannabis workers as being worthy of protection by labor laws. The improvements have been especially big in California. “We made sure that if companies were found to have any labor code violations, that they could lose their licenses,” said Jim Araby, an organizer from UFCW 5, of the state’s weed laws. “It’s the most labor-friendly in the country, and that’s partially because we were involved in it.”
- Regardless, critics argue the union can work against the goals of the larger cannabis movement. There was a rift with growers hen the union opposed a bill that would have allowed licensed California growers without retail permits to take their product to farmers markets and fairs.
- Exactly how much has the awkward transition from MED regulations to REC hurt marijuana earnings? Revenue shrank from $3B in 2017 — the last all MED year — to $2.5B in 2018.
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