MJBiz - September 2023 - 40

Labor
Relations
Utilizing Unions
For companies willing to work with them, labor unions
can mediate disputes and help with expansion
By Omar Sacirbey
C
onventional wisdom
contends that businesses and
labor unions are naturally
adversarial. But it doesn't have to be
that way.
Companies that fi nd ways to
work well with unions can thrive,
while those that don't might lose
money because of lawsuits or labor
strikes and suffer the indignity of
embarrassing headlines that hurt
their brand reputation.
Business and union interests are
more often in agreement than they
are in opposition, according to many
executives and union leaders.
" Happy, healthy, productive
teams perform well and create an
environment where customers want
to come back. Our greatest asset is our
team, because if the team is happy and
performing well, customers want to
come back, " said Lauren Carpenter,
CEO of Embarc, a California cannabis
retail chain that signed contracts with
the United Food and Commercial
Workers International Union at two of
its stores and expects to have the UFCW
at a third store soon.
Two mainstream unions have been
actively organizing cannabis sector
workers:
* The UFCW, which claims to have
organized " tens of thousands "
of retail employees, delivery
drivers and growers and trimmers
nationwide.
40 September 2023 | MJBizMagazine
Lauren
Carpenter
* The International Brotherhood
of Teamsters, which has signed
up roughly 1,000 workers in
California, Illinois and other
states.
Matt McQuaid, communications
project manager for the Teamsters, said
the union represents workers " in all
aspects of the cannabis industry-cultivation,
distribution and retail. "
Companies with unions include
Ascend Wellness Holdings, Cresco Labs,
Grassdoor, Green Thumb Industries,
Nabis, PharmaCann, Verano Holdings
" and a few others, " McQuaid said.
Jim Araby, the UFCW's director
of strategic campaigns, agrees that
businesses and unions have common
fundamental goals. He said the UFCW
and its unionized business partners
work together on developing training
programs, retirement benefi ts and
better health and safety environments.
They also help companies expand.
" The best way you can be a good
union leader is to understand the
business better than the people that are
in it, " Araby said.
He noted that despite its fl aws, the
regulated cannabis market is better
for workers than the illicit market. In
an unregulated market, Araby said,
it's a lot easier to get away with wage
theft, human traffi cking, abusive work
conditions and the like. Regulated
markets, meanwhile, have rules that
protect workers, he added.
" The union wants the California
cannabis industry and businesses to
succeed, " Araby said.
EXPERIENCE
AND EXPERTISE
Carpenter said she was interested
in working with the UFCW for a few
reasons. For one, she felt the union
offered expertise and resources in
areas such as confl ict resolution and
labor law.
" The biggest was a desire to have a
partner that was sitting at the table
with our workers. ... Our employees
can come to us, but we're still in the
infancy of the legal market, and from
my perspective, it's important to have
as many adults at the table as possible
as we continue to refi ne and innovate, "
Carpenter said.

MJBiz - September 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBiz - September 2023

MJBiz - September 2023 - CT1
MJBiz - September 2023 - CT2
MJBiz - September 2023 - Cover1
MJBiz - September 2023 - Cover2
MJBiz - September 2023 - 3
MJBiz - September 2023 - 4
MJBiz - September 2023 - 5
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