The General Assembly convened a special session on Tuesday with the Senate passing SB 1201, legislation legalizing recreational cannabis for adult use and SB 1202, the budget implementer. Both bills were sent to the House, where they were amended on Wednesday and sent back to the Senate.
SB 1201 Cannabis
On Tuesday, the Senate amended the bill to expand the definition of an “equity applicant” for a cannabis business license. Advocates sought to ensure that half of all licenses would be issued to those who had been impacted by the war on drugs. Applicants from areas with high rates of drug convictions or high unemployment and had incomes under 300% of the state median income were deemed equity applicants. The Senate amendment added another group – those who had been arrested or convicted on marijuana charges or had a parent, spouse or child who had been arrested or convicted. That action prompted Governor Lamont to threaten to veto the bill.
When the House convened Wednesday, it removed the Senate amendments before passing the bill, earning the Governor’s support. The amended bill was sent back to the Senate as a disagreeing action. The Senate reconvened Thursday morning to pass it again.
SB 1201 is important to the Labor movement because it requires cannabis business license applicants to negotiate labor peace agreements with a labor union before licenses can be awarded. It also requires licensees to negotiate project labor agreements for construction projects on retail and cultivation facilities valued at more than $5 million.
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.
UFCW Local 919