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Unions are Going to Pot

Unions are Going to Pot

New York Cannabis Unions
Andrew Cuomo has made significant moves in the direction of legalization of Cannabis
Andrew Cuomo has made significant moves in the direction of legalization of Cannabis in recent months

Cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet and, naturally, it needs a lot of workers, and a cannabis union to oversee them. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed the full legalization for recreational marijuana in 2019. This would be an extremely lucrative prospect for the industry and bring with it the creation of many thousands of jobs.

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is hoping that it can be the organization to handle the many thousands of workers that will be handling, processing, and selling cannabis in the future. The RWDSU is already associated with the United Food and Commercial International union which is responsible for representing thousands of cannabis workers in other states throughout the country. At the moment the New York medical marijuana industry isn’t exactly huge but the RWDSU represents the few hundred or so workers that there are.


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Getting Organized

The President of the RWDSU, Stuart Appelbaum, said that he hopes that customers look for the union label when purchasing their cannabis products. This label represents not only a quality product but fair practices when it comes to the workers involved in providing those products. With consumers becoming more keenly aware than ever of where their products are coming from and ethical practices this is likely to make a huge difference in customer perceptions.

NY is creeping closer and closer to legalization
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons) NY is creeping closer and closer to legalization

If New York were to legalize it would join ten other states, including Colorado, and the District of Columbia. It would also represent a major shift in Cuomo’s perception of cannabis which he described as recently as February 2017 as a “gateway drug”. This year would mark the 90th anniversary of Roosevelt’s inauguration as governor and Cuomo stated that he would like to follow FDR’s progressive example.

Not Everyone Happy

The RWDSU is very encouraging of the move as it would urge the cannabis industry to provide decent pay, benefits, and become more inclusive in its hiring policies. Those already in the union working in New York earn around $27 an hour plus health insurance. This is all positive news as labor leaders have been far less successful at other retail giants. Amazon for instance has been resistant to unions and has recently opened a new building in Long Island City. At Gov. Cuomo’s speech this wasn’t forgotten as protesters opposed to the incentives that lured Amazon in the first place chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho. Amazon has got to go.”


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