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Recreational Cannabis: Connecticut’s Next Union Workforce

Since legalizing medical marijuana in 2012, Connecticut has seen substantial economic and workforce development as it relates to this growing industry. In less than a decade, the state has seen four cultivation sites and over a dozen dispensaries open to serve medical marijuana patients. This session, a recreational use bill will be introduced, which has the potential to bring even more economic prosperity to the state. The Connecticut AFL-CIO is working with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 371 and 919, Governor Lamont and the General Assembly to ensure that cannabis workers have a voice on the job and benefits needed to support a family.

Here’s what you need to know:

Legalizing recreational cannabis will create tons of jobs. Connecticut cannot afford to create another low-wage industry. These jobs need to be fair, equitable, good paying jobs with benefits. The most effective way to do this is with an inclusion of a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) in the legislation.

  • An LPA ensures that workers have the choice and a fair chance at forming a union free from employer intimidation and scare tactics. Labor Peace Agreements level the playing field.

Since 2010, the UFCW has helped pioneer the development and stabilization of the cannabis sector. Currently, tens of thousands of cannabis workers across the United States are represented by the UFCW.

  • The UFCW represents cannabis workers from seed to sale — which includes growing and cultivating facilities, manufacturing and processing facilities, as well as laboratories and dispensaries.

What’s the union difference?

Union cannabis workers earn 13% more than nonunion workers. A competitive salary is not the only benefit to union membership. UFCW members can earn a completely free bachelor’s degree for themselves and their immediate family members. The UFCW is also a national leader in workplace safety. Unions ensure that workers have dignity and respect in the workplace.

Connecticut needs not only jobs, but good paying jobs with benefits. Wherever cannabis is legalized, the UFCW is committed to building a successful industry with a thriving, diverse, and skilled workforce.

Emily Sabo

UFCW Local 919

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UFCW Applauds CDC Guidance, Calls on States to Guarantee Free Vaccine Access for Essential Workers

The UFCW recently applauded the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to prioritize essential workers for COVID-19 vaccine access in the next round of distribution. The UFCW said the CDC move is a critical first step, but made clear that governors in all 50 states must expedite vaccine distribution and guarantee access for essential workers. On the NBC TODAY Show, UFCW International President Marc Perrone highlighted the dangers frontline workers continue to face during this pandemic. 

The UFCW recently announced that among our union’s members across the country, there have already been at least 363 frontline worker COVID-19 deaths and over 63,000 frontline workers infected or exposed to the virus. Specifically, there have been 116 grocery worker COVID-19 deaths and 20,750 grocery workers have been infected or exposed to the virus. In the meatpacking industry, there have been 130 COVID-19 deaths and 20,600 meatpacking workers have been infected or exposed to the virus.

“The CDC move to prioritize essential workers for the COVID vaccine is a critical first step, but governors in all 50 states must act to expedite distribution and guarantee free access to the vaccine for these 30 million American workers on the frontlines,” Perrone said in a statement. “America’s essential workers are bravely putting themselves in harm’s way in grocery stores and meatpacking plants to feed our families. Many of these workers are serving our communities without hazard pay after company cuts, despite the growing health risks from recent spikes in COVID-19 cases. With new COVID-19 outbreaks in grocery stores and other frontline businesses, hundreds of these essential workers have already died and thousands more are infected daily as they help to keep our food supply secure.”

“As the largest union for America’s essential workers in food and retail, the UFCW is calling on CEOs in these industries to immediately work with governors to guarantee access to the vaccine for their frontline employees,” Perrone added. “These businesses must also provide a paid holiday to all of their employees who receive the vaccine. With the economic crisis hurting so many families, no worker should have to choose between a paycheck and getting the vaccine that will protect their health.”

You can view the NBC TODAY show interview here.

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UFCW New England Health Fund

Effective January 1, 2021, as a result of contract negotiations in 2019, the individual Health and Welfare Funds from the five New England Locals have joined together to form this New, United, and Powerful Health Fund. Please note the two new contact phone numbers; 860-470-8551 and 888-705-1092 (toll-free). The Pension Office phone number remains the same at 860-677-8118. Please call with any questions.

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As a Local 919 Member, you can share your story about why hazard pay is important to you

Highlighting the Voices of Our Members to Restore Hazard Pay

The UFCW is working with locals across the country to amplify the voices of our members about the importance of restoring hazard pay for frontline workers as COVID-19 cases continue to climb nationwide.

The UFCW’s Communications Department, in partnership with dozens of locals, is assembling a collection of videos of members who are sharing their stories about how the pandemic has affected them and why hazard pay is so important to the well-being of essential workers. This video collection will be used on social media to engage customers and community members on the importance of hazard pay for essential workers during a national week of action beginning on August 31 and leading up to Labor Day.

Members are eager to tell their stories about the risks they are taking to serve their communities during this pandemic and what hazard pay means to them and their families.

“My responsibilities include bagging groceries and sanitizing all the carts in the whole store and making sure everyone is happy with the cart they got and that it’s well cleaned and safe for people to touch,” said Hasseim Waldron, a member of UFCW Local 324 who works at Albertsons. “I believe hazard pay would be a very great incentive and a great reward for our responsibilities as essential workers because we’re on the front lines and making the customers happy and the pay would reward the risk we take.”

“Hazard pay is important to me because I have a three-year-old daughter and I don’t want to bring anything home to her,” said Ebony Spicer, who is a member of UFCW Local 770 and works at Food 4 Less. “I am risking my life every day going out into the world….I believe Kroger, as well as all the other companies, should show their employees the utmost appreciation and respect and give us hazard pay.”

“Hazard pay is vital for us essential workers,” said Chelsea Brecht, who is a member of UFCW Local 1000. “Every day during the pandemic, we put our lives on the line. For me, personally, I just found out I was pregnant with my first child and that poses a whole new risk for me and my baby….Hazard pay is also a ‘thank you’ to your employees for putting their lives at risk and their families lives at risk when they come to work every day to support and assist our customers.”

You can get more information about the video collection and how to make a video here.

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