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Case Made For Labor Peace Agreements

February 18, 2020

A number of supporters of requiring marijuana licensees to obtain labor peace agreements (LPAs) got a chance to voice their perspective Wednesday during a public hearing about the state’s proposed marijuana rules.

The business community has vocally opposed the proposal to have marijuana business owners reach an LPA with a union as a condition of state licensure.

The Senate has approved a resolution condemning the rules, and one senator has compared LPAs to being the equivalent of a protection racket run by the mob.

But during the public hearing on the rules hosted by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) Wednesday, several individuals spoke up about why they wanted to see the LPA piece preserved in the rules.

Cody Dekker, who said he’s worked as a budtender, said he was retaliated against and fired for “simply attempting to organize my fellow coworkers for better wages and conditions.” 

He said it’s clear LPAs are needed as cannabis workers have “no representation” right now.

One man said having LPAs will make sure workers are safe and products don’t hurt people. Another man, Jason Palomba, a union member from Ingham County, said the rules would give workers the freedom to organize or not to organize. As a union member, Palomba said he appreciates guaranteed rest periods as well as the safety that the union affords him.

A Monroe man said he believed the LPAs would ensure the cannabis industry is more diverse by making sure women and people of color could participate.

Katherine Kreger, from Warren, said she supports the LPA provisions because she believes they will help the marijuana industry create good jobs, and she said the LPAs will help ensure workers are paid well and get safety training. 

But besides the groups that have opposed LPAs already — like Steve Linder of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association — there were some individuals today who questioned the inclusion of LPAs.

Kelly Young said she’s a caregiver who is looking into getting a marijuana business license. On the LPAs, she said if she’s mandated to have a unionized workforce and she’s only going to have five employees, “that doesn’t necessarily make sense for me.”

She suggested that if the state is going to move forward with the LPAs, the state should look at the size of the companies and their profits in determining what businesses should comply.

Allison Ireton, of Huron Valley Law Associates, said the “market is taking care of wages” and that workers are making “way higher” wages in the industry, and that the market for trained budtenders “is fierce.” 

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked about backing off the LPA provision, she said in December she couldn’t say she would at that point.

The LPAs are part of a series of rulesets proposed by the MRA that will cover several topics for both the medical and recreational marijuana markets, which is intended to provide clarity and consistency for those working in both sectors of the industry.

Public comments on the rulesets close on Feb. 17, and the MRA is aiming to get the rules to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) by mid to late April, said MRA spokesperson David Harns.

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