Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The teamsters find a new industry to expand into

Unions facing decreases in their membership are always on the lookout to find new workers to unionize. Here is the most recent twist on how the teamsters are expanding their membership - they're unionizing marijuana growers.
The Teamsters added nearly 40 members this month by organizing the country's first group of unionized marijuana growers. Such an arrangement is likely possible only in California, which has the nation's loosest medical-marijuana laws.

It's still not clear how the Teamsters will safeguard the rights of members whose work is considered a federal crime.

"I didn't have this planned out when I became a Teamster 34 years ago, to organize marijuana workers," said Lou Marchetti, who acted as a liaison between the growers and Oakland-based Teamsters Local 70. "This is a whole new ballgame."

The new members work as gardeners, trimmers and cloners for Marjyn Investments LLC, an Oakland business that contracts with medical-marijuana patients to grow their pot for them.

A newly negotiated two-year contract provides them with a pension, paid vacation and health insurance. Their current wages of $18 per hour will increase to $25.75 an hour within 15 months, according to the union.
Sounds like a good deal for the growers. And they can depend on the Obama administration not raising a fuss about any pesky federal laws.