On October 17, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union announced that it was teaming up to represent employees of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado.
Union organizer Mark Belkin said he'd seen overwhelming support for the move, but his enthusiasm now seems to be a bit premature.
Jessica LeRoux, owner of Twirling Hippy Confections, attended a meeting of MMJ industry members and UFCW reps after the announcement, and she says most of the people there were not in favor of joining the union.
Attendees were given a sample contract with "flashy but unrealistic" offers for employees, she maintains. Then they were told the sample contract was merely a template and the actual terms of any possible union contract were "not up for discussion" at that time -- leaving such matters as health insurance, 401(k) programs, promotions based on seniority, paid leave and numerous other issues still up in the air.
"Nobody yet has a contract, no wages or benefits have been discussed with the MMC owners, and somehow the union considers this a justification for a press release saying the state has overwhelmingly voted to go union?" LeRoux asked in a newsletter. "This may seem like no big deal, but thanks to the way unions work, our industry provides a perfect storm for them, so they can flip the whole industry by going shop to shop and getting a majority of uneducated young ding-dongs to sign these commitment cards based on the great benefits they offer and nobody can afford."
In fact, LeRoux says she knows of workers at five MMCs who've signed those commitment cards, giving the UFCW the right to represent the employees "for the purpose of collective bargaining."
LeRoux isn't alone in staying off the union bandwagon. Bob Hoban, attorney for the Cannabis Business Alliance, says his organization isn't getting behind unionization right now, either; the Colorado industry is still too young for that.
Although Hoban praises the Union for its help in fighting a possible dispensary ban in Ft. Collins, he told Michael Roberts in yesterday's post,: "From the CBA's perspective, telling any small business in this industry to do anything in regard to its labor force at this time is premature, at best."
LeRoux agrees: "I am not saying nobody should ever consider working with the union, or that they aren't helping out in Fort Collins, where help is definitely needed. That's a good thing. But that isn't the same as seeing a contract before you sign away your right to personal representation. "
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Petition authors on why they want MMJ limited to DEA-approved pharmacies."