2/7/2013 1:35 PM ET|
Next battleground for unions: Marijuana
Surprisingly, some business owners welcome organizing efforts by employees.
According to Reuters, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the largest retail union, has been bombarded with requests from dispensary workers to join since the election. "I can't keep up," Dan Rush, who heads the union's cannabis division, tells the news service.
The stakes couldn't be higher. As CNBC recently pointed out, estimates of the size of the burgeoning marijuana industry range from $10 billion to $120 billion.
The pro-marijuana group NORML calls pot the third-most-popular recreational drug in the U.S., ranking behind alcohol and tobacco. Nearly 100 million people have admitted to partaking. Not surprisingly, union organizers are interested in the industry, which according to one estimate could employ 100,000 people in California alone.
The union's cannabis unit says it uses traditional organizing tactics to bring fair wages and benefits to an industry that "has been operating in the shadows."
Voters in Colorado and Washington decided last year to end all criminal and civil penalties for cannabis use by adults. Eighteen states since 1996 have permitted the medically authorized use of marijuana.
Surprisingly, some dispensary operators are backing the unionization efforts because they see competitors breaking labor laws and ducking taxes, according to Reuters. But other dispensary owners, like those in many other industries, remain leery of unions.
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A project that never got past the drawing board in the 1990s sees new life as organizers try again.
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