With just a few days to go until weed is legal in California, labor unions across the state are working to organize cannabis workers across the Golden State. Although labor unions have been on their way out for years, many believe that the new legal marijuana market in California can help them make a comeback.
Three Labor Unions Want to Represent Tens of Thousands of Cannabis Workers Throughout California
Three labor unions are competing to represent tens of thousands of legal workers that will be needed to make California’s legal weed market run smoothly. United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Farm Workers, and Teamsters are all looking to represent people interested in working in the California cannabis industry, from growers and sellers to people who roll joints.
Kristen Heidelbach, organizer for Teamsters, doesn’t believe that the three labor unions will need to compete for workers, however. She says that there will be enough workers that need representation as small marijuana businesses give way to larger pharmaceutical corporations.
Leaders of the labor union in California believe there will be at least 100,000 new jobs available. This includes workers from all over the state, who will be busy planting and growing crops, harvesting and trimming, extracting ingredients to make concentrates and edibles, and delivering final products to various businesses.
Those part of United Farm Workers, founded by Cesar Chavez in 1962, believe that cannabis is a natural fit with a union already imbedded in agriculture. They also assert that growers would be able to label their product with the union symbol, which they say could help with marketing efforts.
Can the Cannabis Industry Save a Struggling Labor Union?
According to David Zonderman, professor of labor history at North Carolina State University, the California green rush is an excellent chance for unions across the state to regain authority and power that began to decline in the late 1950s. Zonderman also believes however, that conflict between labor unions could overturn the opportunities legal cannabis in California offers.
“Are they going to be new age and cool with it, or like other business people, say ‘Heck no, we’re going to fight them tooth and nail’?” says Zonderman.
As California gears up for multi-billion dollar legal cannabis industry, labor unions sit poised, ready to represent workers up and down the Golden State.