FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Teamsters Organize Legal Marijuana Growers

The IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters) recently announced that in early September it had organized approximately 40 employees of Marjyn Investments LLC, an Oakland, California, company that grows and processes medical marijuana.

By ratifying a two-year contract (which included wages of up to $26 per hour in the contract’s second year, plus vacation, health insurance and pension benefits), Marjyn’s employees—marijuana gardeners, trimmers, cloners—became members of Teamster Local 70.  Chalk up one for organized labor.

Although marijuana use is illegal under federal law, medical marijuana is permitted under California statutes, and “med-mar” dispensaries are fairly common in the state’s largest cities.  In November, California residents will be asked to vote on Proposition 19, the so-called Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would finally allow local governments to legalize pot and tax it.

The Marjyn deal will have its skeptics and detractors.  Even though Clint Killian, a Marjyn spokesmen, said that unionization “….benefits the company by giving us a stable, committed workforce in a protected environment,” others will demean the partnership:  Who else but the Teamsters (with their checkered past)? they’ll say.

Actually, it didn’t have to happen in California.  If we overlook some obvious hurdles—notably the South’s vehement anti-unionism—it could have happened in Mississippi.  The Magnolia State is home to the Coy W. Waller Laboratory Complex, the federal government’s sprawling, semi-secret marijuana farm, adjacent to the Oxford campus of the University of Mississippi.

Heavily guarded and securely locked-down, this national marijuana plantation has rightly been nicknamed the “Fort Knox of cannabis.”  With seven different alarm systems, and video cameras regularly monitored by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) in Washington, D.C., the place is part farm, part fortress.

In conjunction with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Waller Laboratory (established in 1968) grows top-quality government weed and ships it to facilities all around the country, to be used for various research projects.  Waller Laboratory also tests samples of marijuana that have been seized by law enforcement agencies to determine their potency.  A federally owned ganja operation….not too shabby.

And it didn’t have to be the Teamsters.  It could just as easily have been the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), another big-time union that’s always on the lookout for new members.  For the record, it was the Marjyn folks who approached the Teamies, not the other way around.

As for the SEIU (whose former president, Andrew Stern, has been widely criticized for autocratic excesses), it became the first union in U.S. history to organize a group of exotic dancers.  In April of 1997, the employees of the Lusty Lady, a San Francisco strip club, voted 57 to 15 to form the Exotic Dancers Union, thus becoming members of SEIU Local 790.

Like the Marjyn pot growers, the Lusty Lady organizing drive elicited some snickers (some of which came from other unions).  But it was no laughing matter—not to the dancers.  They were being systematically exploited in ways that bosses have been exploiting workers (particularly women) since the beginning of time.  Despite their protests, management made no effort to address the grievances; hence, the decision to seek union membership.

When the Teamsters and SEIU organize non-traditional groups like strippers and marijuana harvesters, they’re telling the world that they’re willing to go wherever they’re needed, no matter how eccentric the industry or how small the membership.  Let the detractors scoff all they like.  It’s not about perception; it’s about representation.

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of “It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail