By COLIN STAUB
At Gresham cannabis grower CBN Holdings, a strike for union recognition has dragged on without result, and workers have had to find new jobs and leave the strike line.
Workers began striking May 2 to put pressure on their employer to recognize their union. Hoping to improve work conditions, especially safety, they want to join UFCW Local 555, which represents grocery workers, but also workers in some cannabis dispensaries.
However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) considers cannabis grow workers to be agricultural workers, and agricultural workers have always been excluded from the protections of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act. That means the workers can’t expect the NLRB to hold a union election, and it means their employer isn’t required to recognize a union under federal law. Nothing prevents an agricultural employer from voluntarily recognizing a union, however.
“Their only path is strike for recognition,” said UFCW Local 555 spokesman Miles Eshaia. But the strike continued for weeks without union recognition from management. Eventually, striking workers needed to find jobs elsewhere, Eshaia said.
Local 555 says CBN Holdings responded to the union campaign by firing four employees, and its call to boycott the company still stands. The union asks that consumers not buy any Cannabis Nation products or patronize any of the company’s five Cannabis Nation dispensaries.