FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Teamsters Organize Legal Marijuana Growers

by DAVID MACARAY

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail