United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 152, which represents 14,000 South Jersey supermarket workers from its office in Mays Landing, says it has filed unfair-labor-practice complaints with the National Labor Relations board alleging "illegal activities to silence dispensary workers" against the Compassionate Care Foundation, which runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township.

Around 11 workers are seeking representation, Local 152's Chad Brooks told me. "Their pay ranges from $12 to $25 an hour. They currently do not receive medical benefits." The union says "a majority" of Compassionate Care workers last fall asked the union to represent them, but Compassionate Care's board has refused. In a statement, Local 152 president Brian String accused foundation chairman David Knowlton of "pulling out the stops" to prevent union recognition by re-designating workers as bosses and farmworkers, who are not covered by the federal union statute; and by reducing hours for pro-union workers.  

The union says NLRB plans its first-ever hearing to review union representation in the "medical marijuana industry" on Feb. 4 to review Local 152's petition to represent workers, in "an industry that is still federally illegal." String says UFCW locals on the West Coast have organized marijuana workers there, apparently without NLRB intervention. Dispensary manager Tom Olah referred questions to CEO Frank DAgostino, who was not immediately avilable at his office and mobile phone.