The New York Post declared “This union is going to pot!” in a recent article, which included:
“The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union hopes to organize “many thousands of workers” who handle or sell cannabis after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature approve a law in 2019 to legalize marijuana for recreational use”.
“When people buy marijuana, I hope they look for the union label,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum told The Post on Sunday.
“It’s going to be big. We’re talking many thousands of jobs from seed to sale,” he said.
New York would join 10 other states and the District of Columbia if it legalizes recreational weed.
The RWDSU has an affiliation with the 1.5 million-member United Food and Commercial International union that represents tens of thousands of cannabis workers in other states. Both unions have a cannabis division that features a marijuana leaf logo.
The RWDSU currently represents just a few hundred workers in New York’s limited medical marijuana program, employed in cannabis manufacturing facilities and retail dispensaries.
Appelbaum, noting that his union also represents workers in adult sex toy shops and music stores like the Guitar Center, quipped, “It’s sex, drugs and rock and roll!”
More seriously, he said he will urge the cannabis industry to provide good pay and benefits and hire minority residents. He said cannabis workers in the New York medical weed program earn $27 an hour plus generous health insurance coverage.
“We think the best way to create decent jobs is through unionization,” he said.
While marijuana legalization could be a big hit for the union movement, labor leaders have been unsuccessful in organizing workers at other retail giants — including Amazon, which is opening a new headquarters in Long Island City, and Walmart, for example.