The United Food and Commercial Workers union is now a major force in marijuana politics — but criticisms of it have grown with its influence
No one knows more about the complicated alliance between unions and the cannabis industry than Dale Sky Jones, chancellor of Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, a marijuana trade school. She calls herself “Patient Zero.”
In 2010, major unions were just starting to throw their weight behind weed in California as part of Prop 19, a ballot initiative for recreational marijuana. Jones says an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) walked into the campaign office for Prop 19, a campaign Oaksterdam’s founder spearheaded, and said, “You’re not just a bunch of tree-hugging, crystal-gripping hippies carrying signs. You actually have a statewide campaign on the ballot.”
Oaksterdam agreed to unionize, and UFCW helped get Prop 19 backers into meetings with decision-makers in Sacramento. “We got real all of a sudden,” Jones says.
But the alliance didn’t last. All the clout in California didn’t stop federal authorities from raiding Oaksterdam in 2012, and the leading UFCW weed organizer was indicted in 2015 for bribery and extortion. As the school rebuilt, Jones offered to bring in the union again, but Oaksterdam workers declined. They were skeptical the UFCW could deliver. [Read More @ Rolling Stone]
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