Missouri Marijuana Workers Seek Unionization Amid Resistance

Marijuana Workers Unionize Missouri: A Budding Movement in the Show-Me State

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the latest developments in the cannabis , you’ve probably heard about the grassroots movement that’s been gaining momentum right here in the Show-Me State. We’re talking about the passionate efforts of in Missouri to unionize their workplaces, and it’s a story that started with hope, took a hit, but is now back stronger than ever.

The First Toke: Hope and Excitement

Picture this: Sean Shannon and Danny Foster, sporting their “Union For Cannabis Workers” shirts, walk into numerous marijuana dispensaries across Missouri. Their mission? To chat with employees about the idea of unionizing. And in the beginning, it was smooth sailing.

On the first day alone, they made a staggering 57 stops, and the response from workers was overwhelmingly positive. The excitement was palpable as employees showed genuine interest in joining the union. Sean Shannon, the lead organizer with UFCW Local 655 (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union), had assembled a team of a dozen organizers to visit all 100 dispensaries in the eastern half of Missouri – not once, but twice.

Adding fuel to the fire was the recent victory in a where 10 Shangri-La South dispensary workers received a collective $145,000 after being fired following a union organizing drive. The of this win resonated deeply with workers, igniting their enthusiasm even further.

But then came the third day, and things took a chilly turn. Managers had caught wind of the union reps visiting, and they weren’t too pleased. Employees were warned that any interaction with the union – be it taking a card or a sticker – could result in termination.

High Times, High Hopes

Despite the initial setback, the union activity surged. Workers signed authorization cards, granting Local 655 the authority to represent them. This in activity signifies a strong belief among union leaders that success is within reach.

Currently, Local 655 has obtained authorization to represent over 20 locations in eastern Missouri. The next step? Filing a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, pushing for an employee election to determine whether unionization is in the cards.

In recent weeks, employees at Hi-Pointe Cannabis in St. Louis followed suit by filing a petition, following the lead of workers at High Profile Dispensary in Columbia and Bloom Medicinal Dispensary in St. Louis. In October, employees at Homestate Dispensary in Kansas City voted 6–1 in favor of Teamsters Local 955 representation, marking the second unionized dispensary in Missouri. The first was Root 66 Dispensary in St. Louis, where employees voted to join UFCW Local 655 in April 2022.

So, what’s driving employees toward unionization? It seems the initial “canna-bliss” of working in the cannabis industry has worn off. The stark reality is that workers are often underpaid, working in less-than-ideal conditions, and facing instability. Danny Foster, a former cannabis worker, sums it up well: “We all came in super excited, wanting to make cannabis our career. But as it is right now, cannabis isn’t a career.”

The Quest for Job Security

For Andrew Nussbaum, the most experienced worker at Shangri-La South dispensary in Columbia, job security is paramount. He’s passionate about helping people find the right cannabis products to improve their lives.

When he and his colleagues filed a representation petition in April, they faced strong resistance. However, after their unjust termination, the National Labor Relations Board swiftly sided with the workers, awarding backpay and paving the way for unionization.

Nussbaum is among the five terminated employees set to return to work. He remains committed to his role, armed with a degree in plant biology and a genuine passion for the healing potential of cannabis.

Is It a Bud or a Plant?

While some workers face a relatively smooth path to unionization, others encounter hurdles. Will Braddum, a post-harvest technician at BeLeaf Medical’s Sinse Cannabis site in St. Louis, is one such example.

Braddum and 17 coworkers filed a petition in September, only to have the company argue that they are agricultural workers, not manufacturing employees. This distinction matters because agricultural laborers lack protection under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees employees the right to seek better working conditions and representation without fear of retaliation.

The revolves around the nature of the employees’ work. Company representatives presented job descriptions to the board, emphasizing elements related to . Braddum and his coworkers had to refute these claims, pointing out that they had never watered plants or tended to soil.

For Braddum, cultivating a union movement is the key to protecting his job and those of his colleagues. He understands the cutthroat nature of the corporate cannabis world and the power that human resources officers wield over employees. He’s determined to prevent any mishaps by securing job security through unionization.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the push for unionization among marijuana workers in Missouri is a testament to the changing landscape of the cannabis industry. What started as a hopeful journey has encountered obstacles but continues to gather steam. The passion for cannabis and the desire for better working conditions drive these workers, making them a tight-knit community that takes care of its own.

So, stay tuned for more on the evolving cannabis labor movement in the Show-Me State. After all, the only way to truly make a difference is by coming together and saying, “Wait till you feel that contract high.”

**Special thanks to Rebecca Rivas of the Missouri Independent for reporting on this important development in the cannabis industry.**

In this unique and engaging take on the story, we’ve explored the journey of Missouri’s marijuana workers as they strive to unionize their workplaces. The path has been anything but straightforward, but the determination of these workers to secure their rights and improve their working conditions is undeniable. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to follow the progress of this movement and the impact it may have on the industry as a whole.

Rosemary Puffman
I'm Rosemary, a staunch supporter of cannabis legalization and its potential benefits. My roles as a writer, cannabis entrepreneur, and informed investor allow me to contribute to the evolving narrative around cannabis. Through my writing, I aim to destigmatize and educate, while my business ventures and strategic investments align with my belief in the positive impact of responsible cannabis use.

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