Labor Eyes California’s Marijuana Workers

With legal marijuana sales kicking in at the start of the year, California has officially become the nation’s largest market for recreational marijuana in the nation. It’s only natural that organized labor would want a slice of the pie.

The Los Angeles Times reported on labor unions’ machinations last month.

Unions have caught a whiff of a rare opportunity to organize a whole new set of workers as recreational marijuana becomes legal in California.

The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labor's lagging membership — if infighting doesn't get in the way.

The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez, says that organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit, and that growers could label their products with the union's logo as a marketing strategy.

As the Times notes, organized labor has seen a steady decline in influence since the 1950s. Could the largely uncharted and mushrooming marijuana industry offer a return to the glory days?

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