You know an industry has hit the big time when labor unions decide it’s time to organize the workers. So, it looks like California’s medical marijuana workers are about to reach new highs now that the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose has begun organizing local pot purveyors. Here’s the big question, though: How long before they start showing up to picket non-union shops with a giant inflatable bong?
The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including “bud tender” – a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.
“Union bud tender,” said Carl Anderson, executive director of AMCD, an Oakland nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary that is going through the city’s permitting process. The dispensary has 15 freshly minted union employees as it readies for an expected opening in December. “With full union health benefits and a pension,” Anderson said.
The union is working to get workers signed up ahead of a vote in November that could legalize pot for all adults in the state — and proponents of legalization see the union’s efforts as a step toward legitimizing the industry and swaying voters.