EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With the successes of the last twelve months as its jumping off point, New Jersey’s union-supported cannabis industry is poised to further boost the local economies across the state in 2022. In part, that’s because the State prioritized medical cannabis dispensary license applications from minority-owned, woman-owned, and disabled veteran-owned businesses, as well as applications from certain high unemployment areas. It’s also thanks to the priority given to businesses which have, or intend to have, a collective bargaining agreement with a “bona fide labor organization.”
This dual focus on equity and high standards is helping New Jersey to create valuable new opportunities for people and communities that have been historically underserved. One example is the December 15th rush to establish accounts as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) began accepting recreational cannabis license applications. Another, is the growing number of educator partnerships and business agreements being put in place to find and prepare the estimated 40,000 employees this industry will eventually need.
“This is an industry where working together has to be a core value,” said Sam Ferraino, United Food and Commercia Workers (UFCW) Local 360 president. “It’s the only way to ensure employers get a pipeline of reliable, local, well-trained union-quality workers and that employees benefit from the worker protections, career opportunities and family-sustaining wages that are the hallmark of union jobs.”
“Even though we ended 2021 with 56 cannabis license holders in New Jersey, everyone agrees that this industry is in its infancy,” added Hugh Giordano, UFCW Local 152 representative. “In 2022, we’ll see more Labor Peace Agreements and more Project Labor Agreements, and we’ll be expanding the capacity of our training programs so new license recipients can hire work-ready, career-minded employees without undue delay.”
Of course, the positive knock-on effects of the cannabis industry’s growth go beyond training and direct employment. Labor unions are creating a powerful halo effect, as they work to ensure that industry standards are high, that success includes enhanced social and economic equity, and that marginalized communities and entrepreneurs are given a fair shake.
“Specialist services will see rising demand,” added UFCW Local 360’s Ferraino. “From cultivation and extraction to testing, transport and sales, the building trades, support services and infrastructure industry will all need more trained and available workers. That means opportunities to improve workforce diversity, and even to boost the commercial real estate sector.”
Working together, elected officials, business owners and employers, and recognized labor organizations can ensure that cannabis industry expansion and success benefits local communities, and supports those with the greatest need.
UFCW Local 360 & 152 has a task force dedicated to organizing employees in the cannabis industry.
About the UFCW: The UFCW International Union represents over 1.3 million hardworking families across the U.S. and Canada. These members work in essential industries such as Retail, Warehousing, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Transportation, the Public Sector and Cannabis.