“Union jobs are about to be so dope,” the New York Post declared on Sunday evening in an article about the labor movement’s optimism about New York State’s nascent cannabis industry. The state legalized the recreational use of marijuana in March and included as part of that legislation a requirement that firms involved in “cultivating, manufacturing, transporting or selling” cannabis sign a “labor peace agreement” facilitating the organization of their workforces. Leading the organization efforts is the Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has already concluded six collective bargaining agreements with different firms in the broader cannabis industry and has staked out a niche as the “cannabis union.” According to one study, the legal cannabis industry could generate over 30,000 jobs, many of which should be accessible to organizers thanks to the labor peace agreement mandate. As one union leader emphasized, “[t]here will be a few thousand workers in the cannabis industry. We’re going to push to organize as many of those facilities as possible.”
The week kicked off with a series of personnel moves at the Department of Labor as the Department puts to use the enhanced funding included in the American Rescue Plan and regular 2021 fiscal appropriations. Bloomberg Law reports that DoL has hired Ed Hugler, a multiple-time acting Labor Secretary who was at one point the Department’s most senior career official, to coordinate a large-scale hiring and training initiative. Julie Su, the recently confirmed Deputy Labor Secretary who once served as Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, is also expected to lead the Department’s mobilization. According to Bloomberg, over 150 positions at DoL were open as of last week, with “[i]nterviews . . . being held for positions in senior management down to entry level, including wage-hour investigators and Solicitor’s Office line attorneys.” And at the NLRB, newly confirmed General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo appointed Peter Sung Ohr to the permanent role of Deputy General Counsel. Ohr had served as acting General Counsel since President Biden fired Trump-appointee Peter Robb on his first day in office.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday on a gender-bias lawsuit filed last week by California regulators against Activision Blizzard Inc., one of the largest videogame companies in the United States. The suit alleges that the company paid female employees less than their male counterparts, provided them with fewer advancement opportunities, and systematically ignored complaints of blatant harassment and discrimination. The suit comes on the heels of years of activism by female and non-binary workers to address pervasive inequality and institutional sexual harassment in the videogame industry. One prominent critic of the industry’s male-dominated culture lauded the action as “a great step forward because [suits like California’s] force companies to prove that they’re paying women fairly and promoting women fairly. The case is No. CV 26571 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and the full complaint is available here.