This is part of a series highlighting the efforts of organized labor and featured in Labor 411’s print directories. Click here to order your copy and support Labor 411!
Working in partnership with employers and workers in the rapidly-developing cannabis industry, UFCW Local 770 has helped bring what was once considered an unregulated and criminalized industry out of the shadows. Under the leadership of Director of Organizing Rigo Valdez, Local 770 is “growing good jobs” by the hundreds.
Seven years ago, the Local recognized that cannabis would eventually become a thriving legalized industry and that the thousands of workers moving into this field would need representation and protection. By the time the City of Los Angeles passed Proposition D legalizing cannabis in 2013, Local 770 had provided input on protective legislation and had laid the groundwork for organizing workers at dispensaries throughout the city.
The organizing and the helping to change the perception of cannabis industry was out of necessity. City councilmembers Jose Huizar and Mitchell Englander had lobbied to end all pot sales because of the high concentration of illegal shops in the city. Valdez and the Local rallied people throughout the industry and convinced owners to become better neighbors. Following the Proposition D passage in 2013, Local 770 lobbied the state to create medical cannabis regulations that would protect both patients and cannabis workers. The Local also backed proposition 64 legalizing cannabis throughout the state.
Speaking at the Labor 411’s inaugural Blue Tie Gala, which honored Local 770 as the Ethical Emerging Industry of the Year, City Councilmember Paul Koretz said “I’m sure there would not be legal cannabis without Local 770.”
Local 770 scored another significant victory in 2018, joining with fellow Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 1167, 1428 and 1442 to ratify a new three-year contract with Rite Aid. The contract covers more than 5,900 workers at 357 stores.