Most cannabis dispensaries are cash-only businesses, constantly at risk of being robbed. Indoor growing facilities use harsh lighting, and plants get sprayed with pesticides.
Those conditions can create daily hazards for cannabis workers, which is why labor organizers are trying to unionize them as legalization spreads and the marijuana workforce grows. …
UFCW, which represents grocery, retail, meatpacking and health care workers, has led the unionization charge. The union says it represents tens of thousands of workers in the burgeoning marijuana industry, including “budtenders,” processors, delivery people and cultivators.
The union first organized cannabis workers in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use and in the years since, many other states have followed. Today, 37 states plus the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use, and 21 states plus D.C. allow recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonprofit that educates lawmakers and their aides. …
Some large cannabis companies have allegedly sought to block unionization efforts.
Massachusetts-based Curaleaf, for example, which operates 142 dispensaries and 26 cultivation sites in 21 states, has been the subject of numerous complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board, including for retaliation and bad faith bargaining. Curaleaf did not respond to a Stateline request for comment.
Adam Abrahms, a labor management attorney based in Los Angeles, said many cannabis companies are struggling to comply with regulations and pay taxes, and that union-minded workers should be wary of pushing them over the edge.
“When you put in additional administrative costs and burdens associated with dealing with a union organizing campaign, that may not be within [workers’] ultimate long-term best interests,” Abrahms said.