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Secretary-Treasurer's Report

As their industry grows, cannabis workers seek union membership

By February 19, 2019 No Comments

The times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan would say, and as time goes on we are adjusting to ongoing and inevitable changes in the legal landscape for the use of cannabis.

Cannabis is now legal to some degree in most states and territories in the United States. In Arizona, its use for medical purposes has been lawful since the voters barely passed Proposition 203 in 2010. Medical use is also legal in Utah and New Mexico.

While a measure to legalize its adult use failed in Arizona in 2016, public sentiment continues to move toward full legalization, and most observers believe Arizona, Utah and New Mexico will join California, Colorado,

Nevada and other states in legalizing adult use sooner rather than later.

What does this mean for Local 99 of the United Food and Commercial Workers?

Our union sees a vital new retail sector opening up where workers will need the job security, wages and benefits that come with a union-negotiated labor contract — something our members in New Mexico already understand.

In many parts of the country, cannabis workers have asked for UFCW representation, and many owners have been fully on board with that.

As any enlightened business owner should realize, having a happy and stable work force allows a business to compete and grow successfully.

A collaborative relationship with a union allows access to multi-employer health and pension plans that businesses can afford, which in turn attracts and retains the highest caliber of employees.

A growing industry

As the industry grows and matures, UFCW Local 99 will continue to be a part of it.

Last year, our union welcomed 30 new members employed at Natural Rx, which operates cannabis dispensaries in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Los Lunas, N.M., as well as at the Natural Rx growing facility.

As we reported in the Fall 2017 issue of 99Report, the new members include patient consultants, garden assistants, budtenders, edible specialists, security personnel, cashiers, compliance special­ists, trimmers, store managers and assistant managers.

Natural Rx owner Trevor Reed said he wanted to operate as a union business because he was a union Ironworker himself. His employees agreed because they wanted workplace protections and guarantees.

In their first contract, the workers gained significant increases, as well as seniority rights, a health care package, a pension, paid holidays, vacation days and personal days.

And cannabis workers in Arizona are working to follow suit. With more and more growth in the industry in Arizona, the ability to provide the strength of the union is going to change the industry for all.

UFCW Local 99 is proud to serve cannabis workers as they seek secure careers in good-paying jobs, with health benefits and the promise of a secure retirement.

For them, the times are a-changing for the better.