Last week, the Teamsters Food Processing Division completed its third strategic training in the last month at Joint Council 28 in Seattle. The member organizing training was preceded by a national cannabis meeting held in Washington, D.C., and a member organizing training in Nashville.
“This is part of a long-term plan to transform these industries for the better by adding thousands of new members,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Food Processing Division Director. “Our mission extends beyond immediate goals; we’re cultivating a movement that will echo throughout these sectors for generations to come.”
The workshops armed Teamster members with the essential skills required to mobilize other rank-and-file workers within the food processing industry. Sessions focused on identifying and engaging potential union members, conducting effective house calls, and crafting compelling one-on-one messages.
“Rank-and-file workers possess an innate understanding of the on-the-ground realities and challenges their peers face,” said Matt Lundy, Teamsters Western Region Organizing Coordinator. “This firsthand knowledge equips them with the unique ability to foster trust, build solidarity, and drive change from within. They don’t just speak on behalf of their colleagues; they speak as their colleagues, making their advocacy all the more powerful and resonant.”
The national cannabis training covered a range of topics pertinent to the burgeoning industry. These included organizing, an overview of multi-state operators, communications strategies, lobbying efforts to legalize cannabis, advocating for a pro-labor regulatory environment at the state and local level, the unique nature of negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement in the craft, and addressing worker safety issues like crime prevention and respiratory hazards in grow houses.
Local 665 Business Agent Mark Malouf gave attendees a detailed overview of his experience organizing cannabis workers and what lessons the Teamsters have learned from prior campaigns.
“One thing I’ve learned is we need to go after this entire industry,” Malouf said. “I want the hand of every worker that touches the plant – from harvest, to distribution, to retail – to belong to a Teamster member.”
“Our strategy is clear, harness the collective power of rank-and-file members through education and solidarity,” Finn said. “By providing both rank-and-file members and local unions with the knowledge and tools to succeed, the Teamsters are not just expanding our influence. We are setting the stage for a major push across these industries to prioritizes worker welfare, increases wages and benefits for our membership, and raises standards across multiple crafts.”