Door is Open for NY Marijuana Dispensary to Be a Union Shop
By Owen Petrie
Integrated Scientific Herbal Advances, one of 43 medicinal marijuana companies hoping to be awarded one of the five dispensary licenses New York State will give out later this month, has already snagged the endorsement of Orange County Executive, Steven Neuhaus, and now can add to the list of groups pulling for them to be selected, Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU), and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
If chosen, ISHA will start by employing around 50 people at its 30,000 square foot Goshen, N.Y. facility. They entered into a Labor Peace Agreement in May with Local 338 should those employees decide to unionize. The union represents both professional and non-professional workers in many fields, from super-market workers to pharmacists, truck drivers, dairy farmers, lab technicians & health care aides. Now they may add a new category of employee to their bailiwick.
Eldridge Hawkins, Integrated Scientific Herbal Advances’ Chief Security Officer/VP of Government Affairs, said that ISHA is looking forward to a fruitful association with the workers in Goshen no matter what they decide to do. “The impact on the business is that should the union be successful in getting the employees to agree, ISHA would negotiate employment terms with union leadership instead of each individual employee. Most but not all employees would then be covered by a collective bargaining agreement,” Hawkins explained.
The Local sent a letter to Howard Zucker, New York Commissioner of Health, confirming that ISHA had entered into a Labor peace agreement with them, as required under the New York Public Health Law.
Although many people immediately think of pleasure toking when they hear about a medicinal marijuana dispensary, physician-owned ISHA wants it to be very clear that the “medicinal” part of their mission is not tangential to the cannabis. It is the raison d’être for the weed.
That is an important distinction because the agreement prohibits employees from engaging in picketing, work stoppages, boycotts or other activities that will interfere with the manufacture of the medicament. In the complex machinations of New York’s fledgling marijuana enterprise, Labor, health and business have to be simpatico.
There’s something to be said about the power of the bush. Before the first bud has even bloomed, marijuana’s propensity for bringing different groups together is in full effect.