High Time: Call for Unionizing Cannabis Workers

Business News - Union Call

Just like any emerging industry, the cannabis business is getting regulated. Cannabis and cannabis-related products are slowly getting legalized and decriminalized, grading systems are being considered, and these products are slowly but surely becoming part of everyday life in America. And what usually follows this type of regulation and growth is something of a dirty word for many business owners – unions.

Namely, cannabis workers all across the United States are unionizing at a slow but determined pace. As more and more states are decriminalizing cannabis and marijuana, the need to secure the industry’s workers, to protect them from exploitation, grows.

Namely, the labor unions have been pushing for agreements that force licensed weed shops to become part of “labor peace agreements”. For now, only California and New York have implemented this deal.

The so-called “labor peace agreements” are based on old strategies used for casino workers and shipyard employees. They rely on keeping “peace” between unions and companies. On one side, the unions promise they won’t vilify or picket the company. On the other, the company promises to cooperate with the unions, allowing its employees to join them, as well as making that process easier.

These agreements for weed stores are now part of the American judicial system. Namely, on the 11th of October, Governor Newsom signed these agreements into law. Every cannabis store needs to become part of said deals if it has 20 or more employees.

The relevant law signed by the governor of California pushed cannabis businesses to sign these labor peace deals within a deadline of 60 days. While the labor peace deals have been a requirement for cannabis shops since 2018, the then-current laws had no way to enforce them. There were no deadlines that cannabis businesses needed to adhere to, essentially leaving lots of room and leeway for these shops to take their time.

While for now only the two abovementioned states legally mandate dispensaries to sign these agreements, Illinois is considering making them a requirement for a cannabis dispensary license.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, among others, are pressuring other states to go through with these laws. Seeing as how this is a relatively young industry already worth $6 billion, the opportunities for worker maltreatment are many, and legislation might just keep things growing at a steady pace.