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US (MA): The majority of employees of a cannabis cultivation and processing facility are “agricultural laborers”

In a recent decision, the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for Region 1 (covering most of New England) found that a majority of employees of a cannabis cultivation and processing facility were “agricultural laborers” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the NLRB. The decision means that the union can attempt to organize the workers pursuant to Massachusetts law, which unlike federal law, requires recognition of a union with a simple card check.

Under a quirk of federal labor law going back to the 1930s, farm workers – also known as agricultural workers – are exempt from federal labor law. Some states, including Massachusetts, have decided to cover agricultural workers under state law. Many other states, however, deny unionization rights altogether to these employees.

The case involved the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1445’s, effort to organize the cannabis cultivation and processing facility at New England Treatment Access's (NETA) Franklin, Massachusetts facility. The union initially sought to do so under Massachusetts state labor law, which, among other things, allows for organizing of agricultural laborers through a union-friendly “card check” method of organization – instead via the NLRA’s secret ballot process. 

Read more at jdsupra.com


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