Unions Partnering Up with Cannabis in Washington State

A labor union is defined as “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions.”

Cannabis Workers Rising (CWR) is a wing of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) involved in the cannabis industry across six states and the District of Columbia. Their website explains that the CWR is primarily involved with dispensaries, coffee shops, bakeries, patient identification centers, hydroponics stores, and growing and training facilities. Some ganjaprenuers in Washington State are now turning to the CWR to help legitimize this once-illegal sector of our economy.

The UFCW has three recruiters working in Washington state. According to Nathe Lawver, Communications Director for the UFCW Local 367, there are “a couple dozen” members, mostly in the medical marijuana sector, in the organization’s Tacoma-based branch. Cannabis Workers Rising also has several contracts awaiting approval. Nathe says the UFCW is a good fit for the cannabis industry because, “The United Food and Commercial Workers have a rich history in the retail and processing industry. We stand together with hard working women and men of the cannabis industry to help make their work safe and help build a better future for themselves and their families.”

He points out an added benefit to organizing with the Union:  “We have deep relationships across the state and in local communities that make us a familiar face to elected officials. We utilize this relationship to humanize the cannabis industry, and lobby for better cannabis regulations in Washington State.”

This sentiment is also expressed by some regulators in Washington State, as well. The mayor of Tacoma recently told the News Tribune that a cannabis business unionization would help add to their legitimacy in the community. Although not everyone agrees with unions, we will have to wait and see what role Cannabis Workers Rising may play in the future of Washington’s blossoming, newest industry.

Photo Credit: Mark


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