message from the president

August 2019


Working Towards Legalization

At the close of this year’s legislative session, we celebrated significant advancements for the labor movement. Our Legislative Leaders passed a number of comprehensive worker protections that guarantee equal pay for equal work, prohibits salary history to prevent wage discrimination, and a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill to protect our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. Another monumental worker protection bill is The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act which was signed by Governor Cuomo on July 17, 2019. This law grants farm workers overtime pay, a day of rest each week, disability and Paid Family Leave benefits, unemployment benefits and other crucial labor protections. And while this was a historic and productive legislative session for New Yorkers and New York’s working people, there is still more to be done.

As many of you know, we currently represent over 300 members in New York’s medical cannabis industry. The contracts we have negotiated for these new members are incredibly strong and as a result, we have established high standards for employees in this rapidly expanding industry. In addition to negotiating strong contracts, we also continue to meet with workers at other medical cannabis companies who are interested in joining a union. The work of our organizing team and Union Representatives in organizing these additional companies is vital to the expansion of this growing field. We are committed to ensuring the jobs created in this field and by companies that are HIGHLY profitable, are quality jobs that offer family sustaining wages, benefits and job protections. This work does not happen overnight.

Over the course of the last year we have fought tirelessly for passage of the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” which would legalize, regulate and tax the production, distribution, and adult-use of cannabis, while also expanding the State’s existing medical cannabis program. Our Political & Communications Director, Nikki Kateman, has made significant efforts to address a number of concerns, including righting the wrongs of current drug policies. The work that we do on this legislation is important because many Local 338 members live and work in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of the War on Drugs. While the bill was not passed during this session, we continue to work with our partners both in the State government and the community to bring forward more supporters of this important bill, not only to create new economic opportunities and jobs, but also for the members of the communities who have been most affected.

Whatever your position on cannabis may be, the effort to pass the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” is about social and economic justice, which is a component of our mission as a labor union. However, the good work that we do is only possible through your support. If you are interested in joining our efforts on not just this legislative fight, but all of the work that we do whether it’s fighting for funding for wage increases for our members at IAHD and Community Resources or strengthening protections for workers, speak to your Union Representative or contact our Political Department at 516-294-1338 ext. 1274.

As Always, and In Solidarity,

John R. Durso

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LOCAL 338 RWDSU/UFCW  •  1505 Kellum Place  •  Mineola, New York 11501
Main Office (516) 294-1338  •  Union Call Center (516) 294-1338 ext. 1775  •  Medical Call Center (516) 294-1338 ext. 1776
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