Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 9, 2017

Grass-roots organization

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

One of the items that came up during the cannabis discussion was around the labor peace agreement that — in the first draft of the ordinance — would trigger if the business had more than two employees.  Putting aside the fact that the number seems a bit on the low side, it appeared that more people objected to the idea of a labor peace agreement in general than the low trigger number.

I found an article about organizing in Oregon and how one business owner who sought out the union to organize his workers, from a 2015 article:

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 recently negotiated a three-year contract on behalf of employees at a Portland dispensary and hopes to broker similar deals across the state as the cannabis industry takes off, said Jeff Anderson, Local 555 secretary-treasurer.

The initial contract for workers at Stoney Brothers provides for wages starting at $15 an hour for cashiers, $20 an hour for trimmers and up to $32 an hour for master cannabis cultivators. The agreement also guarantees paid holidays and vacation days, pension contributions and employer-subsidized health insurance.

Central to that vision is a related objective of creating middle-class jobs from the new employment opportunities created by legal pot.

“A lot of (business) people are coming with expectations of creating a lot of money,” Anderson said. “We want to create middle class jobs out of these occupations, whether in the grow, medical or recreational dispensing or topical factories.

He said the union wants to work with owners who share a vision of developing marijuana dispensaries along the lines of a drugstore, which implies a stable workforce and community connections, rather than a convenience store model typified by high turnover and low wages.

Stoney Brothers president Trevor Reed, with similar aspirations and previous dealings with the union in New Mexico, approached Oregon union officials himself.

“I’m a socialist at heart,” said Reed. “I knew if I tied my hands to a contract, I would pay a living wage and if I didn’t, I may or may not.”

Though the initial contract covers just three employees, Stoney Brothers plans to open a second location soon in Astoria and has a state license for a third dispensary in Southeast Portland.

I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, but it seems important that a business that runs mostly on a cash basis have some level of protection for its employees.  We see class action suits for wage violations within certain industries with employees who tend to be from disenfranchised communities and don’t understand their rights.  If we’re, as Frank Matarrese said, “taking on the risk” it would probably be a positive thing to make sure that we’re protecting people throughout the continuum.  From the kids who some parents don’t want cannabis related businesses sited anywhere near them to the “budtender” dispensing appropriate strains for their clients.



  1. Phil Matier nailed the issues pretty well in his KCBS broadcast yesterday:

    The whole situation is a chaotic mess. Aren’t Labor laws mostly Federal regulations? The entire marijuana industry is in violation of Federal law. I don’t know how you reconcile the two.

    Comment by vigi — November 9, 2017 @ 9:22 am

  2. Some background on labor peace or labor neutrality agreements and federal preemption. There is some tax increment financing on the side too. Also, if you have trouble sleeping, this may help.

    There is a discussion of the distinction between between attempts to by states and localities to regulate labor organizing practices (generally preempted by the federal NLRA) from situations where the state is acting as a proprietor or market participant (where a state or locality is generally permitted to impose conditions relating to labor practices), and a conclusion that the City of Pittsburgh’s decision to condition a grant of tax increment financing upon the recipient’s acceptance of a labor neutrality agreement was not preempted.

    Opinion by Michael Chertoff who was Republican counsel during the Whitewater hearings and later Sec of Homeland Security under Bush W.

    Comment by MP — November 9, 2017 @ 1:10 pm

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