Labor unions turn to marijuana industry to bolster flagging membership

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Unions, facing shrinking membership rolls, legislative limits to collective bargaining agreements and national backlash over rising pension costs, have found an emerging business to tap: Marijuana.

The nation’s largest retail union, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, or UFCW, touts a sticker on the glass door of one of Los Angeles’ medical marijuana dispensary, Reuters reports. The facility staffs only union employees; the UFCW is in union talks with 49 other pot shops in the city, Reuters said.

But when it comes to the marijuana industry, the union doesn’t simply unionize — it lobbies. UFCW has led efforts to bring pro-pot legislation to 17 states and the District of Columbia, Reuters reports. Once the shops are legal, UFCW then swoops to unionize the workers, according to the Reuters report.

Union officials say 3,000 UFCW members now work in the marijuana industry, Reuters says.

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