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Connecticut legal marijuana bill favors unions with labor peace agreements and project labor agreements

A bill legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana in Connecticut that will likely be rushed through the General Assembly in the next two days will include union-friendly language meant to encourage the unionization of retail cannabis workers and union labor on construction of retail cannabis facilities.

The bill, which is hundreds of pages long, requires marijuana retailers to enter into a labor peace agreement as a condition of obtaining a license and requires a project labor agreement for any cannabis construction or renovation totaling $5 million or more.

Labor peace agreements essentially ensure that the business owner will remain neutral during any attempts by a union to represent the employees of the business, and the labor union agrees not to picket, boycott or force work stoppages at the business.

Project labor agreements are collective bargaining agreements entered into for completion of a construction project and essentially requires any contractor to use union labor and abide by union work rules. 

Cannabis retailers could be fined up to $10,000 per day for each violation of the PLA requirement, according to the bill. 

Project labor agreements are common in Connecticut for public projects and have most recently been required for the State Pier project in New London and the rehabilitation project on the north-bound lane of the Gold Star Bridge, but the marijuana legalization bill would require PLAs on private business projects.

Chris Fryxell, President of the Associated Building and Contractors of Connecticut, an organization of non-union construction businesses that comprise roughly 87 percent of the construction workforce in Connecticut, said the government shouldn’t be forcing private business to use union labor.

“It’s bad enough that government is steering state construction dollars to campaign donors, but the latest efforts to force private enterprise to pay big labor for construction is truly beyond the pale,” Fryxell said. “It isn’t government’s place to dictate how the private sector decides to approach their bidding process or to artificially and arbitrarily drive up costs for individuals looking to invest in a business.”

Under state statute, a PLA can only be required for a public project when it is determined to be in the public’s best interest based on efficiency, cost and economic benefits; availability of a skilled workforce; prevention of construction delays; safety and quality of the project; advancement of minority and women-owned businesses and employment opportunities for the community.

The language relating to minority and women-owned businesses and employment opportunities for the community in which the construction will take place is likely taking precedent in a marijuana legalization bill that has been largely focused on equity for communities that have been affected by past marijuana laws.

However, the statute regarding project labor agreements is reserved for public works projects only and makes no mention of imposing PLAs on private businesses that are not receiving state money.

Labor peace agreements for the cannabis industry have been required in states like California, Illinois and New York, but was stripped from legislation in Michigan. Although it does not require cannabis workers to join a union, it does require the employer give up some of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has been the largest driving force in unionizing cannabis workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers have attempted to unionize cannabis workers in Massachusetts with some locations voting to unionize and others voting against.

With the legislative session set to end this week and the legislature still having to vote on a budget agreement, the marijuana legalization bill faces a time crunch. 

However, Fryxell says his members are encouraging lawmakers to strip the project labor agreement language from the bill and questions the constitutionality of the requirement.

“If this proposal is signed into law as is, I expect there to be court challenges on whether the state can force the private sector to utilize these union-only agreements which will result in less competitive bidding and higher construction costs for investors,” Fryxell said. “If private enterprise wants a PLA, that’s their right, but the government shouldn’t be dictating it.”

Marc E. Fitch

Marc E. Fitch is the author of several books and novels including Shmexperts: How Power Politics and Ideology are Disguised as Science and Paranormal Nation: Why America Needs Ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot. Marc was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and his work has appeared in The Federalist, American Thinker, The Skeptical Inquirer, World Net Daily and Real Clear Policy. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University. Marc can be reached at [email protected]

5 Comments

  1. Brian Kelly
    June 7, 2021 @ 3:04 pm

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

    Reply

  2. Grrald birnbaum
    June 8, 2021 @ 6:14 am

    Leave the unIon out of the cannabis busi ness

    Reply

    • Bobby
      June 14, 2021 @ 12:21 pm

      Legalized marijuana Will create s more dangerous environment as more users will feel that dwi driving is safe and acceptsble. With the altered state of mind and slower reaction time, road travel and pedestrian involvement will be grossly more dangerous. As it is now, a simple painted double yellow line is the only thing that protects you from a fatal head on collision. Noop, no to marijuana !

      Reply

  3. John C Miller Jr
    June 12, 2021 @ 5:07 pm

    once again the unions win and the taxpayers loose!!! marijuana legalization may be an inevitable reality but the statement that it is much safer to consume than alcohol is total nonsense.

    Reply

  4. Daniel Wood
    October 13, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

    The unions play an important role in industrial relations — the relationship between employees and employers. The unions can improve wages, hours and working conditions for all. Trade unions are very effective in the construction sector as they contribute to increased safety on the construction site. I absolutely agree that communication and training are key to preventing any accidents. Local law 196 introduced new regulations for demolition and construction workers employed in the 5 boroughs that will require them to have a specific amount of training. Workers will be required to have a minimum of 30 Hours of training and supervisors will be required to have a minimum of 62 hours of training.

    Reply

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