Labor Unions Continue To Coalesce Around Marijuana Workers

UFCW Union Sign: REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn, Woman smoking marijuana: REUTERS/Fredy Builes

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) unanimously reached a 3-year agreement with a medical marijuana company in Minnesota.

The UFCW Local 1189 ratified the agreement with Minnesota Medical Solutions last week, one of only two licensed medical marijuana companies in the state, a deal which includes annual wage increases for all employees, premiums when hiring new employees, and an expansion of the current wage scale.

“We were really pleased to be able to recommend this offer to our members,” stated Jennifer Christensen, president of Local 1189. “It is a fair settlement that will ensure that the company is able to recruit and retain exceptional workers.”

This is important not just for our members, but for the medical cannabis patients in Minnesota, Christensen added.

Minnesota Medical agreed to pay the increase in healthcare insurance through 2017, but employees will contribute $5 per week starting in 2018.

Cannabis workers in Washington State first unionized in June, when UFCW Local 367 reached an agreement with the Cannabis Club Collective, a Tacoma-based medical marijuana facility. (RELATED: Marijuana Workers Approve First Of Its Kind Labor Contract)

The new contracts have the potential to lend more legitimacy to an industry that has been illegal for many decades and the target of substantial criticism.

Unions in California are also beginning to coalesce around the cannabis industry, a move that some see as a way for unions to push back against declining numbers. The problem facing the industry isn’t primarily about finding workers as it is about finding banks to process their finances.

Federal law labels marijuana a controlled substance, which means that the money made from marijuana sales is illegal. (RELATED: The Biggest Problem Facing Marijuana Dispensaries)

Local chapters are contracting with marijuana workers in California, Colorado, Michigan and Washington, according to the UFCW.

The UFCW Local 1189 represents 10,000 members in retail, healthcare and manufacturing in Minnesota. The state has two companies that are licensed to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there are currently 4,180 medical marijuana patients in Minnesota.

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