Workers at 3 MMJ Businesses in Oakland Unionize
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Workers at 3 MMJ Businesses in Oakland Unionize
Posted by CN Staff on May 28, 2010 at 10:15:30 PT
By John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times
Source: Los Angeles Times
California -- Workers at three medical marijuana businesses in Oakland will announce Friday that they have unionized, another step in a concerted campaign aimed at bringing legitimacy to a once-hidden sector of the state's economy and boosting the marijuana-legalization initiative.Union representatives and the business owners believe it is the first time that workers in the nation's growing medical marijuana industry have joined a union.
"They want the community to understand them as decent, hard-working people," said Dan Rush, who oversees special operations for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 5.The numbers are small, Rush concedes  about 100 new members. But he believes the potential for new jobs  and union members  is enormous.Rush, who lives in Oakland, saw marijuana businesses helping to revive a sketchy area not far from his home. He studied the legalization initiative on the November ballot. And he concluded that his union ought to tap the emerging industry and push to expand it.He worked to persuade the employees that the union could help advance their cause. The businesses include the firm owned by Richard Lee, who is sponsoring the initiative. Lee runs a handful of operations, including a dispensary and Oaksterdam University, which teaches classes about marijuana.Lee has staked the success of his initiative on persuading voters that the drug ought to be regulated and taxed like any business, and he thinks the successful union drive bolsters this argument."It's another validation of the idea that the cannabis industry is a legitimate industry that creates taxpaying jobs," he said.Lee is also hoping that the local, which has about 26,000 members in the state, can help win the initiative an endorsement from the California Labor Federation. "They have a lot of political muscle," he said.That would be a coup, said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College."It would be a huge difference because unions have boots on the ground," he said. "The question is whether this is actually going to be a major priority for organized labor at a time when the state has over 12% unemployment."John Lovell, a lobbyist organizing an opposition campaign, credited Lee for the effort."He's scrambling. He's trying to do different things. I get that," Lovell said. "I just don't think it's going to be successful."Rush and Ron Lind, president of Local 5, said they are working to win a labor federation endorsement and will highlight the measure's job potential.The initiative would allow Californians to grow and possess pot, but also let cities and counties legalize the cultivation and sales of marijuana and hemp."I'm guessing there would be thousands of workers, if it passes," Lind said.The new union members also include workers at the Patient ID Center, which provides medical marijuana identification cards, and AMCD, which hopes to become one of Oakland's newest dispensaries."We're 100% union," said Carl Anderson, AMCD's chairman. "It brings credibility to what we are doing."Note: About 100 new members join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. It is another step in a campaign to bring legitimacy to the emerging industry and boost a marijuana-legalization initiative.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:  John Hoeffel, Los Angeles TimesPublished: May 28, 2010Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on May 29, 2010 at 14:59:51 PT
No outfit.
I'm incognito in the stands... but I'm yelling for us all, the whole team and all their fans, like crazy and jumping and clapping in delight when things go well!We have to win! Push em back... push em back... waaaay back.
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Comment #9 posted by BGreen on May 29, 2010 at 14:53:01 PT
Hope re: post #7
I try to cheerlead as much as I can.Ooh, do you have an outfit you wear? ;)(Comment cleared by Mrs. Green before posting LOL)Bro. Bud
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on May 29, 2010 at 14:27:54 PT
Actually... I guess
in telling Joe Citizen that I agreed with him, I failed to notice that he was speaking directly to you in his comment.Sorry.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on May 29, 2010 at 14:25:58 PT
I try to cheerlead as much as I can. Just can't help it.:0)
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 29, 2010 at 14:24:46 PT
I know you haven't said that, EAH. I know you've got your doubts but as I remember you said you probably would vote for it.I meant that, I guess, to those, like Mykeyb420 and the many others that I have heard feel so doubtful about it as he does.
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Comment #5 posted by EAH on May 29, 2010 at 13:40:37 PT:
Can you guys not see my comments as only black or white please? Hope, I don't see this as voting for Lee. I have never said anything to that effect at all. This was the first comment I've ever made about him as opposed to the proposition, which I have commented on. I try to give my perspective not just cheerlead. I understand this proposition is what is, but why isn't it acceptable to express concerns, point out potential problems, or talk about frustrations here. Apparently when I post something nuanced there are some that react impulsively and don't get what I'm saying.It's a long long way between this proposition and "perfect". For that reason I 
talk about it. Why does anybody think I am holding out for perfect? Is it not OK to discus the pros and cons? I have lived in CA. for 32 years, I worked in the trade almost that entire time, I have been caged for it, my life savings stripped from me. I know what I am talking about. There is great symbolism with this proposition and that trumps how hugely flawed it is. And it is hugely flawed, but as I have said before, I'll vote for it
but I'll be holding my nose. People will still be getting arrested if this passes.
There will continue to be a black market and prices will remain inflated.
I had to say something when I saw the Richard Lee for President comment.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 29, 2010 at 08:48:27 PT
I so agree!I wish people could get past thinking if they vote for this initiative they are somehow voting for Richard Lee in some way.It's important this initiative pass and Lee got it on the ballot and I'm very thankful for that and I appreciate his efforts. You've got to face it... it's personalities like Richard Lee's that are usually the personalities of people, whether you like them or not, that get things done.If you won't vote for this initiative because you don't like Richard Lee, I have to tell you, it's not Richard Lee that is tainting this initiative, it's your dislike of Richard Lee that is tainting the issue. It's not a popularity contest for Richard Lee. You may not like the man at all... but it's the initiative we've got and maybe not the one we wish we had, right now, this minute, but it's the one we've got and to treat it... her... like a despised thing because you don't like her "Daddy"... would be wrong.Please talk about why you won't vote for this initiative and let us that want you to, try to understand why you feel the way you do and let us try to reason with you from our point of view and maybe change your minds, if we can.
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Comment #3 posted by JoeCitizen on May 29, 2010 at 08:17:13 PT
I don't know much about Lee, but I'll say that trying to personally gain from championing the cannabis cause is a damn sight better than personally benefiting yourself by opposing it, which is the far more common pattern.Yes, there are dozens of theoretical policies that would be better, maybe far better. They remain static ideas, words on pages, ideas in heads.  And then there is this policy, which imperfect as it may be, is becoming a reality in the real world.Perfect becoming the enemy of the good is becoming almost trite, but it's a real situation that recurs depressingly often.
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Comment #2 posted by EAH on May 28, 2010 at 20:56:51 PT:
Unfortunately I can't separate how everything Lee does to advance the cause of cannabis from how it will also benefit Lee directly first, at the possible expense of 
broader better policies.
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Comment #1 posted by keydet46 on May 28, 2010 at 18:09:34 PT:
Richard Lee for president! The man is amazing.
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