Pages tagged "ufcw"

  • Labor stands up for safe access in LA

    Organized labor spoke up on behalf of medical cannabis patients and workers in Los Angeles today. One hundred medical cannabis patients, workers, and advocates gathered on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall for a press conference hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, which represents workers at more than twenty of the most reputable patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city. UFCW Local 770 called the press conference to oppose a motion by City Council Members Jose Huizar and Mitchell Englander calling for an outright ban on patients’ associations. The motion will be before the Public Safety Committee tomorrow, and may be before the full City Council within days.

    The Huizar-Englander motion is known by the euphemism “the gentle ban,” because the Author and the City Attorney claim the ordinance created by this motion would “allow” patients to grow their own medicine at home, but ban all other access in the city. But the right of patients and primary caregivers to grow medicine is already guaranteed under the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420). The “gentle ban” takes away real access for most patients, but gives nothing in return. “There is nothing gentle about the gentle ban,” said UFCW Local 770 Director of Organizing Rigo Valdez.

    The City Council has another option. A competing motion by Council Member Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson would allow for a limited number of patients cooperatives and collectives in the city, provided they comply with as yet undetermined provisions. That motion is designed to settle numerous lawsuits and comply with the Appellate Court decision in Pack v. Long Beach, which if upheld, may bar the city from some kinds of regulation. Unfortunately, the Koretz-Wesson “limited immunity” motion is being ignored by committee members and city staff.

    The voice of organized labor is a welcome addition to the long and controversial debate about medical cannabis in Los Angeles. UFCW Local 770 is using its influence and experience to help to push the City Council away from the cynical “gentle ban” and towards an option that will preserve real access to medicine and good union jobs in Los Angeles. Patients and workers in Los Angeles hope lawmakers heard the voice of labor today, and will listen tomorrow at the Public Safety Committee hearing.
  • UFCW: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

    I will be attending the CA Unity Conference and Lobby Day because I support the hardworking, taxpaying medical cannabis members of my union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. I am a proud member of UFCW Local 5’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, and a Special Projects Union Representative for Local 5. My Local was the first in the nation to start organizing cannabis workers in 2010 with the Oaksterdam family of businesses, and was a lead coalition partner in support of Proposition 19. Since then, medical cannabis workers have joined our union throughout California; in Sacramento, San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle, Los Angeles, Marin County, San Jose, and other areas across the state. We were also proud coalition partners with the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care referendum campaign in San Jose, which overturned the bad ordinance that would have effectively banned medical cannabis dispensaries. Workers have also joined UFCW’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division in Colorado and Michigan, and we will soon be organizing in other medical cannabis states across the country. By joining UFCW Local 5, our cannabis members have secured health insurance, a good wage, retirement benefits, paid holidays and sick leave, and most importantly, a dignified work environment through our collective bargaining agreements. Medical cannabis workers are just like any other person trying to make a living in our Union, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with them. I will be there Monday to urge my elected officials to vote “Yes” on A.B. 2312. We need to send a message to Washington D.C. that we support a dignified, regulated, unionized medical cannabis industry, and it’s time for these outrageous attacks on regulated producers and distributors of medical cannabis to stop now! Nearly 150 of Local 5’s cannabis members are out of work since the Obama administration’s inexplicable attacks on California’s medical cannabis workers began last fall. The President has always gone out of his way to say that he will not go after medical cannabis users abiding by state law, but has given a blank check to an out of control Justice Department to attack medical cannabis producers. We need to send a message to our elected officials that they can’t have it both ways on medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is overwhelmingly popular; a recent Mason-Dixon poll shows that 74% of Americans disagree with the Obama administration’s attacks on legitimate medical cannabis providers. It is simply ridiculous to tell sick and suffering patients that they can have medical cannabis, they just can’t legally get it anywhere. That is like telling a cancer patient that she can have morphine, she just has to synthesize it herself from her backyard poppy flowers! Without continued access to safe, legal medicine, the only other option for most patients is resorting to the criminal market, sending more money and power to violent gangs and cartels. Let’s put our UFCW medical cannabis members back to work by supporting A.B. 2312 and the ASA/UFCW California Unity Conference and Lobby Day. I hope to see you in Sacramento. Matt Witemyre is Special Projects Union Representative, UFCW Local 5 Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division. If you are a medical cannabis worker or cultivator and you would like more information on the benefits of joining the United Food and Commercial Workers, e-mail him at [email protected]