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Season 4, Episode 241

First cannabis industry workers to unionize in Ohio



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Estlin Hiller and Tavis Barton

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Estlin Hiller and Tavis Barton, Budtenders with Strawberry Fields United — and members of Teamsters Local 413 —- joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss becoming the first cannabis industry workers in Ohio to be unionized, issues with organizing and what anti-union threats they faced from their employer.

Organizing the Strawberry Fields Budtenders started a few months back as more of a joke. The employees sought out the help of Teamsters Local 413 and were able to fight for their right to organize. These workers became the first workers in the Ohio cannabis industry to unionize. As the state moves to the legalization of recreational marijuana use, Hiller is positive there will be more cannabis workers to follow suit.

There were several issues to overcome in getting their unionization efforts recognized. They faced pushback from employers over grievances and desired improvements. Beyond the pushback from employers, they faced challenges over the ability to meet outside of work times. Communication with their fellow workers about what must be done was an issue. If it hadn’t been for the ability to create a group chat, it would’ve been more difficult to manage their communication, Barton said. 

The employer hired a Labor Consultant and worked for about a month to dissuade workers and fix concerns to avoid a unionization effort. Hiller said that the workers were prepared and knew their rights so they could circumvent many of the tactics used by the consultant. Their biggest issue was the interruption of their work, as workers were pulled into captive audience meetings.

For more from the Budtenders at Strawberry Fields, please listen to the show above.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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