Teamsters Local 70 PatchAbout 40 medical marijuana industry employees joined with the Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland, California earlier this month, ratifying a contract after their employer recognized their union without interference. These employees are different from those of medical marijuana dispensaries who joined with UFCW Local 5. The newest Teamster members are those who tend to plants at a medical marijuana management company.

The workers are trimmers, gardeners and cloners. Cloners clone different strains of marijuana, depending on its medical needs, said Lou Marchetti, the business agent for Local 70, which organized the workers and negotiated the contract. Marjyn Investments provides medical marijuana used by patients suffering from cancer, HIV and other life threatening illnesses.

Rome Aloise, President of Joint Council 7 and Western Region Vice President, praised the work of Local 70.

“The Local was approached by these workers to organize and Local 70 accomplished this goal very quickly,” Aloise said. “The Teamsters will provide these workers with the best representation possible.”

Marty Frates, Local 70 Secretary-Treasurer, credited Marchetti for obtaining a recognition agreement with the full cooperation and support of the company, enabling the workers to obtain a contract very quickly.

“These workers are highly educated and dedicated to helping people with very serious illnesses,” Frates said. “Lou was able to negotiate for them a very good first contract.”

Under the two-year contract, the company will pay for the workers’ health care costs. The workers will receive pensions under the Western Conference of Pensions Fund, and their wages, currently at $18 an hour, will increase to $25.75 an hour within 15 months. They also get 10 paid holidays and 60 hours of personal time per year.

“The company expects to expand and hopes to have about 150 employees,” Marchetti said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever organize medical marijuana providers, but this is an expanding industry in California.”

No word yet on if the Teamsters organization will endorse Proposition 19, but organizing workers in this growing industry is a big step forward. Like I said yesterday: marijuana legalization is an issue for working people.