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A Pot Industry First: Cannabis Workers Join Food Workers Union

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AP Images

UPDATED: The employees at Tacoma’s Cannabis Club Collective will soon be members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

All eight staff members voted this week to join the 1.3 million-member international organization in what is the first-ever union contract in Washington’s marijuana industry.

The shop sells medical pot products and workers there say they feel pretty good about their employer.  But by joining the union they’re getting some extra protections and recognition.

(Editor's Note: The store expects to offer recreational pot products next June under provisions outlined in Initiative 502. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the store currently sells both recreational and medical. The story has been corrected to reflect this.) 

Tim Moisio, the store’s manager, said the move helps stabilize the business and its employees.

"We can move forward and have our families be able to be taken care of – insurance and medical coverage and sick leave and vacation time to be able to be with our kids and our families more – you, know, paid for that time," he said,

 Union members hope the three-year contract will help set a precedent for workers in their field.

Moisio said with so many new regulations coming in, the union can help advocate for cannabis workers in Olympia. The workers at the Cannabis Club voted before knowing exactly what their union dues will be

Moisio expects dues will be about $80 per month. Wages at the shop range from $12 to $18 dollars per hour and will go up by 50 cents hourly every six months under the new contract. 

The new union contract also gives them paid time off, health care benefits, a pension plan and standards around grievances and safety.

UFCW spokesman Nathe Lawver says it’s important to get these workers the same legitimacy as exists in many other industries.

“So when we need to advocate in Olympia or they need some help in Olympia, we’re able to go down there and say ‘hey-- these are workers, these are good-paying jobs. This is not just about your tax revenue, there are people behind these numbers.’ ”   

 

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