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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
Medical marijuana workers unionize
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Medical marijuana workers unionize

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A medical marijuana collective in Puyallup and UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Local 367 announced on July 14 that they had reached agreement on union representation for 'patient consultants' working at the collective.

Dutch Master's Organic Gardens collective has been in business since 2011, and is the first medical marijuana business in Washington to unionize.

'Workers at the collective see the need for further regulatory protections for the estimated 5,000 workers in medical cannabis collectives across the state,' a UFCW 367 media release said. 'Most notably is their genuine concern for patient access under the newly implemented I-502 regulations.'

Collective founder Dutch Master said the union was helping with advice on expansion to other locations, as well as benefits for workers.

'The UFCW works with employers to help them move into different counties and states when they need advice and workers in those areas - pensions, medical, plus all the other standard things that come along with being part of a union,' Master said.

'Above all, having the Cannabis and Hemp Workers Union behind us gives the industry a much greater level of legitimacy.'

'From my experience in nursing and working with patients suffering in nursing homes to now being able to serve medical cannabis patients, we see they are happy and their diseases are getting better instead of getting worse. Joining the union is our way of bringing stability to medical dispensaries in Washington,' said Lorissa Meyer, who is a patient consultant and patient at the collective.

The 7,500 members of UFCW 367, representing retail and commercial workers, include grocery store workers, Macy's sales clerks, pharmacy and drug store workers, barbers, bakery workers, office supply store workers, jewelry store workers, and other working families in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.

UFCW has a growing membership in the medical cannabis industry across the country. The union's Cannabis Workers Rising Campaign aims at legitimizing the medical marijuana industry through collective bargaining, along with regulatory expertise and advocacy.

'Any time you have an industry where jobs, people's livelihoods, and families are dependent on the law and regulations, the union is the place where workers find their strength to bargain and have a voice in the process,' said UFCW Local 367 President Denise Jagielo.

'The union's goal is to bring stability to this blossoming industry in Washington for all cannabis workers.'

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