Medical marijuana workers joining UFCW Local 7: Is weed a growth area for unions?

Categories: Marijuana, News

mark belkin.jpg
Mark Belkin.
The conflict between federal and state laws present a challenge to the medical marijuana industry, as last week's DEA raid on the Cherry Top Farms dispensary demonstrates. But there's also growing institutional acceptance, illustrated by today's press conference announcing the unionization of many MMJ workers via the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. What's UFCW director of organizing Mark Belkin's take?

"Right now, we're looking at several hundred workers who have voted overwhelmingly to join the UFCW," says Belkin, who'll take part at an 11 a.m. press conference at Local 7's offices, 7760 West 38th Avenue, Suite 400, in Wheat Ridge. "Our employees are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with the industry and its workers."

The deal isn't a one-shot, he emphasizes. "The UFCW now has a medical cannabis and hemp industry division in the international union. So this is a deep and long-term commitment."

Colorado is the second state in the U.S. to formalize this relationship, following California -- and such efforts won't stop here. In Belkin's words, "there are currently organizing campaigns and initiatives taking place in more than a dozen states." He adds that Local 7 has been meeting with MMJ representatives here "for several months. The organizing campaign kicked off in earnest about two months ago, and we're getting a very positive response. I think the workers in the industry see that the UFCW can help to stabilize and legitimize the industry."

It's no secret that union membership in this country has been declining in recent years, with labor being a frequent target of conservative politicians, among others. As such, gaining a foothold in one of the few enterprises that's actually expanding despite the dismal economy has to be considered a coup for the UFCW. Meanwhile, the medical marijuana industry is now linked to a powerful lobbying organization whose backing could be critical as efforts intensify to legalize MMJ in more states.

As for Belkin, he points out that "we have 100 years of experience in representing workers who produce items for human consumption. And we see the medical cannabis industry as a core industry for UFCW and Local 7 now and in the future."

Look below to read the UFCW Local 7 release about today's get-together. Those quoted include Steve Ackerman, an MMC owner currently fighting an attempt to ban dispensaries in Fort Collins, and Kim Cordova, profiled in the Westword feature "Can a mild-mannered bakery clerk solve the grocery workers' labor strife?"

Colorado Medical Cannabis Industry Goes Union Joins UFCW Local 7

Denver -- On Monday, October 17th workers, labor and community leaders will gather to announce that a comprehensive cross section of hundreds of Colorado's medical cannabis industry workers have voted overwhelmingly to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the largest Union in Colorado with over 25, 000 members.

"We are proud to join our new sisters and brothers in the 1.3 million member UFCW family of retail grocery, pharmacy workers, agriculture workers, food processors, meat cutters, textile workers, and health care workers in North America. We realize that medical cannabis is part of the retail healthcare, agriculture, and food processing industry and our Union is the industry Union of all these categories. It's a natural fit, and we are very proud to be part of Local 7 and UFCW's International family" said Steve Ackerman of Organic Alternatives a retail medical cannabis center.

Local 7 President, Kim Cordova said: "We are the retail food, pharmacy, agriculture, food processing, and healthcare Union in Colorado and around the nation. Our Union has over 100 years experience representing these very types of workers. We intend for our Collective Bargaining agreements to serve as a first line of regulation in the communities our members work in, and we are proud to do it." UFCW Local # 7 is located in Wheat Ridge, in the Denver Metro area.

The medical cannabis retail industry employs more than 8,000 workers and Contributes tens of millions of tax dollars to the Colorado economy...

****Local 7, the largest Union in Colorado is affiliated with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union which represents over 1.3 million workers in the United States and Canada, and is one of the largest private sector Unions in North America. UFCW members work in a wide range of industries, including retail food, food processing, agriculture, retail sales, health care, manufacturing, and medical cannabis. UFCW and our members are dedicated to a dignified, controlled, taxed, regulated, compliant, unionized medical cannabis industry. We stand in solidarity with the workers and patients of the unionized medical cannabis industry.****

Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana raid: Feds seized 2,500 plants from Cherry Top Farms after following suspect's truck."

My Voice Nation Help
77 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse

the unions are not their too help you, fools! the ufcw is one of the most corrupt org. in the country. you pay dues whether you want to or not. meaning if they don't get you you what you want, you still pay.

win, win for unions either way. hire attorneys or do it yourself, hiring an outside agency to represent your best interest is insane! especially when they get their dues even if your business goes down the tube, and they move on to another bunch of p.t. Barnum suckers!

DontWorryBeHopi
DontWorryBeHopi

Now some kid in South Carolina died smoking synthetic marijuana (fake marijuana.)

Someone needs to phrase this shit to the Media.

How does our Government justify young people dying smoking the fake version of something that in reality has never killed anybody? This is the direct result of their prohibition, and they should be called on it. 

Truth
Truth

I totaly agree!!!

DontWorryBeHopi
DontWorryBeHopi

Hey Westword,

Can you do a follow up on the Ft. Collins dispensary ban and the reason between the disparity in votes for the ban, and support for the ban in polls?

The resons, I believe, is because the pro-Ban group was wearing Tye-Die t-shirts with pot leaves on them, and doing all sorts of other shit to make it look like the signatures they were collecting were for a pot-friendly cause.

They dressed up like Hippies, and asked people to sign a Marijuana petition without elaborating, and it is thought that enough stupid would-be supporters of MMJ signed the petition without knowing what it was.

Forestgump
Forestgump

More fraudulent marketing, no surprise here.  So where are the people upset with the "regulate marijuana (like alcohol), which also is collecting signatures as they lie to voters.

The regulate language is SAFER (Mason Tvert) Sensible CO ( Brian Vicente) NORML, MPP and DPA--and since no one likes these groups they had to come up with a new group name for this BS.--kinda like CMMR dissolving into MMIG.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

It's kind of a long shot to assume that everyone who signed the petition was fooled, or didn't read what they were signing.  It happens in every petition or election, people get confused, but should be a marginal 5% error or so, not enough to swing the entire election.  The Coloradoan has awesome coverage with the following 4 stories in the past week alone:http://www.coloradoan.com/arti...

http://www.coloradoan.com/arti...

http://www.coloradoan.com/arti...

http://www.coloradoan.com/arti...

With the way things are going, just like in California, approval of medical marijuana even from fellow tokers / growers is going down. The medical part is bullshit and the average conscious human knows it. Medical marijuana is a hurtle that must be left behind. Onward with real legalization and get rid of all the BS dispensary morons.

William Breathes
William Breathes

Michael Roberts put up a post on this on Sept. 27 and has been following it for some time: http://blogs.westword.com/late...

the vote for the ban isn't until November 1.

Truth
Truth

It ends on November 1st. The ballots went out on the 11th of this month.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Neat. Anything else? Did you read the articles about the bust? Just curious?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

My position on MMCs is unaltered since passage of HB10-1284, and I have written something similar here and elsewhere repeatedly.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

You could have just said it like that the first time Jerk. It would have saved me from dissing you all this time.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Well we know you werent :). Good luck with that car situation. Dick

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Hilarious!  I guess you all will be able to claim the credit for the great victory to come.

Why should anyone believe you after you write "That’s funny because my MMC's are based in Denver and my 10 dollar an hour employees found time to get up there and help even if they had to take the bus", "so now I took it uppon myself to figure out who you were ... and tell some lies about you and what you believe in", and "I'm just having fun fucking with you people. I'm not even a center owner." -- you would seem to be a psychotic toying with the credulity of those "so easily swayed".

P.S. You don't seem remotely interested in the fact that the certification of such an election was illegal. Wouldn't it have made more sense to challenge that action in court before hitting the streets?

P.P.S. Canvassing is a very effective way to communicate with people about politics -- I have considerable experience, did a little on Amendment 44, and I have been advocating for canvassing to end Prohibition for some time. I stand for patients and caregivers' constitutional rights, but I acknowledge the role MMCs have (usurped), and I support their remaining in the business of supplying cannabis to patients.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

That’s funny because my MMC's are based in Denver and my 10 dollar an hour employees found time to get up there and help even if they had to take the bus. They weren’t worried about room and board. They just wanted to help. I also donated over 4k of my own money and put in over 20 hours of phone time. I did this with active members of MMIG along with a few other organizations. Your name never came up. Weird

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I live in Denver and I do not have a car.  I inquired about canvassing, but the campaign does not seem interested in helping me find a place to stay while doing so.  Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods would have done well to ask me to direct the canvass, but hired people from out-of-state instead.  I have repeatedly raised the issue of the illegality of the election, but the media are determined to suppress that information, and the proper place to make the argument is in court -- it would not make any political sense to tell voters that the election would be illegal were it held.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Well if you think so then why not get up here and help us? Obviously they think its legal or they wouldn't be doing it. We have been fighting it along with MMIG and many other organizations for over 2 months now, raising money and awareness. Where have you been?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The vote itself is illegal -- C.R.S. 12-43.3-103 (2) (a) states:  "PRIOR TO JULY 1, 2011, A COUNTY, CITY AND COUNTY, OR MUNICIPALITY MAY ADOPT AND ENFORCE A RESOLUTION OR ORDINANCE LICENSING, REGULATING, OR PROHIBITING THE CULTIVATION OR SALE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA.  IN A COUNTY, CITY AND COUNTY, OR MUNICIPALITY".  November 1, 2011 comes after July 1, 2011.

Lady
Lady

Do you wanna pay $31 a month like the (100 total, not over 8000) union trimmers in Cali paid, not to mention if you fire an employee for flagrant violation of MMED code which the MMJ business gets penalized by the MMED for, the union can come sue you to re-instate that employee on your payroll. Awesome! Plus they wont fight for your right to use your prescription medicine while working, so what do they plan to do to be helpful? I cant find anything in their proposal yet.... This is not a done deal yet so speak out, its just more shady behind the scenes effort to eliminate small players by making it too expensive for lil guys to keep up. ultimately it is the patients who will be forced to pay for this move. if you object do yourself a favor and send a quick email saying so to Nick King  nickking@act4co.org 

Boom
Boom

You should worry about keeping your dog out of your dirty ass kitchen before you get inspected. Those cheese cakes arent what they use to be and no one likes the truffles.

OwnerwhodoesntsupportMMIG
OwnerwhodoesntsupportMMIG

Support the little mom and pop shops who are truly working hard for their patients or even the 'cheesecake' lady for that matter and NOT the corporate/lobbyist group otherwise known as MMIG

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

DP:  "Father-and-son Ha and Nathan Do were in federal lockup on drug-distribution charges Friday night, held without bail, after agents raided an unlicensed marijuana-growing warehouse in Denver and seized more than 1,000 cannabis plants. Along with Ha Do's brother, Hai Do, the three run the Earth's Medicine dispensary in Denver and operate three cultivation facilities that have applied for licenses, according to state records." -- you are right, they didn't bust the owner of the MMC where the raid took place, but they did bust the owner of an MMC and OPG applicant.  My use of the phrase "a Federal bust of an MMC" was imprecise, but (all quibbling about who or what was busted or why aside) the DEA arrests mark the closure of a dispensary and cultivation operations in Colorado, and we should certainly expect more.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

They didn't arrest the owner of the MMC. They let the owner go. They arrested and charged the Do Family.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Come now; it is perfectly fair to describe the arrest of an owner of an MMC by the DEA as a Federal bust of an MMC -- I did not even imply that the Feds had begun widespread busts of MMC in full compliance with State regulations, and while that day may come, we might more reasonably expect Federal threats against landlords and IRS actions such as those we have seen in California in Colorado too while the DEA continues to nibble around the edges (or maybe Obama will hold them off until the presidential election, but I doubt it).

MMIG is PIGS
MMIG is PIGS

Stop the hyperbole, Robert. There have been no busts on MMCs, BUT there has been ONE bust of an illegal grow operations that lead to ONE MMC getting hurt ONLY because the Feds could not turn a blind eye to contraband once they saw in it.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Believing as we do that (more) Federal busts of MMCs are likely, a post like yours makes it difficult not to wish you into the vanguard of martyrs to HB10-1284.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Good one, very original... Your guys aren’t activists. You sound like a bunch of out spoken stoners. Try making a real difference in the world. Those so called big companies all started off as small ones. Don’t be jealous because they were smarter than you and figured out how to do things better than you. Worst of all don’t use the patients as an excuse for your lack of business sense and professional understanding of how this game really works. You guys are going to spend the rest of your lives mad at the world with your way of thinking. Have fun with that. Ha

employee
employee

I work for Steve and hes a member of MMIG. I've been to their meetings and I signed up. My employer pays for my membership via a $30 a month pay increase and we have the Union backing us in a huge National Fight. The Union is suppost to keep people employeed and thats what their doing. Not fighting the buisiess owners but he government because the government is the one that is putting us out of the job up here.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

So what happens now if you lose your job? Do you realize that you now, according to union rules, have to find a job in a union shop and are banned from working in a "scab" shop?

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

A wolf AND a snake in sheep's clothing.

I'm Wondering also
I'm Wondering also

It should be noted that the Unions only get a foot fold in the MMJ industry due to the Fort Collins election.

Josh Stanley has a dispensary in Fort Collins. I wonder if he allowed his store to be unionized, and if so was it only in Fort Collins, or did the union spread to this 2 stores in Denver? What about all the other MMIG dispensaries, such as RiverRock, and Rocky Mountain Farmacy, etc..???

me2
me2

The first thing I thought when I read this was "looks like MMIG has been up to something again..."

Guest
Guest

Exactly! MMIG is a LOBBYIST group financedby special interests new to the MMJ industry in Colorado. MMIG's undisclosedmembership and private board has a hidden agenda responsible for this assaulton your freedom as a patient.  They have also recently formed CBA (Cannabis Business Alliance) aMMIG splinter group.  Be very afraid of these people.

MMIG are PIGS
MMIG are PIGS

FYI: CBA is most definitely not in line/bed with MMIG. They formed because they do not like MMIG and its direction.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Well, I've been around. That’s all you need to know. Just moving behind the scenes when you guys were catching all the public eye in your crazy rants. :)

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

What does the weather have to do with it?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

You are incapable of having a reasoned exchange -- "unregulated storefront caregivers" don't have anything to do with "J mans house" -- you must be one of those idiots trying to tell us that dispensaries didn't exist before caregivers were banned from them (on July 1, 2010)!  Dimwit clients of MMIG do not respect me (I hardly care about that) -- the people who are misleading you however, do.  I stand on my record of advocacy and my attendance and testimony at municipal and state hearings related to cannabis -- while it has been like swimming in a cesspool, I don't recall having met a "Total bull shit"  -- where have you been for the past three years?

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Well Robert, being that your probably the most un respected figure in this community other than some hippy edible manufacturing companies. I'm poised to say you pretty much have no idea what your talking about. Yea, your right. It was way better when my grandma was going to J mans house up the street to snag an 1/8 and a couple cookies. She even got a high five on the way out along with a glimps of J mans AK-47 sitting next to his living room table. Sweet idea buddy. Keep um coming

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

MMCs are less secure than unregulated storefront caregivers were -- they videotape patient's red cards, the DOR may tell law enforcement agencies (including the DEA) all about OPGLs, and the State's plan to license the retail sales and cultivation of cannabis puts it in direct conflict with the Federal government, and MMCs are in the line of fire.  Your understanding and your argument are what are total bullshit!

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

Oh yea, one last thing to your fantastic comment. Those business men that employ your sacred growers are doing something called creating jobs. Weather a business person can grow or not it’s a job that’s created. Someone is able to pay their bills and taxes because of these evil business people. How dare they pay fees and follow the rules to create jobs. What jerks...? Seriously Monkey Dick, grow up.

Total bull shit
Total bull shit

FYI if you think Colorado Laws and Cali laws even sort of look the same you clearly cant read.

Total Bull Shit
Total Bull Shit

Sweet, get your ass out of Colorado then. Take your awesome weed someplace else. Believe me there's plenty of good stuff here to go around with out yours.

Monkey
Monkey

Good luck buddy, obviously you're heavily vested in these new rules and want everyone to believe this crap but most people are laughing at you. Everyone who cares about cannabis has already left the commercial industry, the only ones left are business men who know nothing about the plant and hope to hire someone that does. No one is inspecting these grows for bugs and mold, it is strictly a pay-to-play model that is in no way safer for the consumer. The only ones proud of this mess are the ones that have nothing else to be proud of. Keep clinging to those meaningless rules and regulations, the only thing they do is draw attention to you, thats why caregivers hate you, your going to bring the Feds here, not keep them away. Long Beach CA will verify that.

Total Bull Shit
Total Bull Shit

I wouldn't say MMIG is taking credit for patient’s rights at all. They are taking credit for helping create safer access and a regulatory system that had to be enacted. All the old care givers say the quality has gone down. That’s bull shit. The test's are coming back stronger and stronger from testing facilities. For some reason they take MMIG members seriously and not other groups. Probably because other groups don't have their shit together enough to have civil conversations and get though issues constructuctivly rather than how things have been handled in the past.

anonymouse
anonymouse

What exactly is the MMIG taking credit for giving to patients, that they didn't have prior to HB 1284?

Please be concise. 

From here it looks like they merely lobbied themselves a monopoly.  All the other stuff you're taking credit for was not the MMIG's doing.

This patient misses the high quality offerings the market had to offer before HB 1284.

"You people" indeed.

Total Bull Shit
Total Bull Shit

MMIG has nothing to do with assaulting patients rights. If you actually pay attention to what’s happening MMIG has given better access to patients than ever before with its lobbying efforts. MMIG has a problem with people like you trying to use the patients as an excuse for shitty business practices and cheap products. Of course you people like the care giver model better. There was no oversight and you could sell to whomever, whenever you wanted. You could forge patient cards and grow 100’s of plants into your house.  Now that theirs oversight and regulation all you people are complaining about how the State is taking away patients rights. Total Bull Shit!!! There are hundreds of thousands of patients and I haven’t heard one complain about how they can’t buy weed from their care giver living next door any more. As a matter of fact if you read the news most of them especially in Fort Collins are saying that they love the Center model because if provides a safe and secure source. Centers are responsible for the product that they put on the shelves. Because of the 70/30 rule most of everything in their centers comes from the people that own it. If they don’t like the product they know who to talk to. You people that are incapable of running clean and secure businesses should all go to another State and try to flaunt their laws because Colorado isn’t going to stand for your shit much longer.

Seriously
Seriously

So does the union have any insight into how they will help the cannabis workers other than collecting dues?

Guest
Guest

Most likely not, just dues!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...