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Union signing up marijuana workers

May 28, 2010 at 11:52 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 28 (UPI) -- A labor union is organizing medical marijuana workers in Oakland, Calif., a move likely to aid efforts in the state to legalize marijuana, analysts say.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose, Calif., is thought to be the first union to organize workers in a marijuana-related business, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

The executive director of an Oakland non-profit medical cannabis dispensary seeking a city permit says he has 15 newly signed-up union employees ready to start work for a December opening.

"With full union health benefits and a pension," Carl Anderson said.

If California voters approve an initiative on the November ballot legalizing possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, thousands of new workers could be unionized, a Local 5 organizer said.

They would include retail clerks at dispensaries, cannabis-processing jobs, agricultural work for growers and security positions at dispensaries, Local 5 President Ron Lind said.

"These will be good union jobs with middle-class incomes," he said.

The union has not officially endorsed the November legalization initiative, but Lind said the union's national leadership is "supportive" of the local's efforts, the Chronicle reported.