Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Marijuana initiative gains backing of state's largest labor union

The campaign for Proposition 19, the initiative on the November ballot that seeks to legalize marijuana, plans to announce Tuesday that it has won the endorsement of the state council of the Service Employees International Union, the largest labor union in California.

The endorsement could bring a boost to the campaign, which has not been able to raise enough money for television advertisements and is relying on grass-roots outreach.

The SEIU, which says it has more than 700,000 members in California, is a significant political force in state politics, although it is not clear how much money or muscle it will put toward passage of the measure.

In a letter to the campaign, union President Bill A. Lloyd wrote: “As you know, our primary objective in the 2010 election is targeting the top of the ticket. The lion’s share of our focus and resources are targeted at electing Jerry Brown as our next governor, but we look forward to joining you in any way we can to help pass Proposition 19.”

Lloyd said the union decided to back the initiative because it could help raise revenue to avoid cuts to healthcare, home care, education and services for children, families, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The initiative, which allows people 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, authorizes no taxes but allows cities and counties to approve the sale of marijuana and tax it.

“These new revenues will help the state and local governments protect and invest in jobs we need to provide for our families,” Lloyd wrote.

The pro-legalization campaign has made labor a key component of its election strategy. Dan Rush, a politically connected official from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 has been working closely with the campaign.

“I think that this is going to encourage major donors and show everyone that Proposition 19’s campaign is a viable campaign,” he said. “We are building an element of credibility and momentum for the campaign that is historic.”

Besides Rush’s local, the initiative has won support from the council that oversees political activities for the UFCW in California and four other states. The Northern California council of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, Communications Workers of America Local 9415 and Sign Displays & Allied Crafts Local 510 also signed on.

And Rush expects to add more. “I’m confident that other major labor unions are going to be weighing in,” he said.

The SEIU has 15 locals in California that represent workers in healthcare, long-term care, building services, and state and local government. Rush said he hopes the SEIU and the other endorsing unions will contribute money and workers to operate phone banks and walk precincts.

-- John Hoeffel

Comments () | Archives (24)

Pot + Munchies = Food Service

I guess my dues aren't the only things in the union that are high.

Looks like labor unions are now a hinderance to California in two ways: One, they drive up the costs of government with their overly generous pay and pension benefits, and two, they now endorse drug use as a way to make California better? Marijuana use will not make California better, on the contrary, worse. This proposition sends the wrong message to youth and teens by saying drug use is O.K. They already receive bad influences and messages. Instead of glamorizing marijuana use, unions should be backing efforts to de-glamorize it. There are health, safety and moral concerns with marijuana use. I have seen them personally with one of my brothers and sister. Rather than promote marijuana use, we should be promoting all the other non-drug, healthy activities instead. If you need to use a drug to enjoy life, maybe there is something wrong with you.

Jerry Brown is a vocal opponent of Proposition 19. Why would SEIU include him in their letter? He's been very outspoken against the measure as the leading law enforcement officer in the state.

Does this union have members in its rank who must submit to drug testing? If so, they certainly SHOULD be supporting this proposition, as it expands the eligible employee pool greatly by removing the arbitrary preemployment marijuana screenings. One less hurdle for Californians seeking to become gainfully employed, productive members of society.
Insert your narrow-minded, baseless stereotypes about 'pot-heads' being lazy and incompetent here:

Works for me!! This is the only time I've ever supported a union idea.

Union = doper losers.


It's clear from arrest reports that the vast majority of citizens arrested for marijuana related "crimes" are mid-lower income bracket. Its certainly not the uber rich that suffer from marijuana prohibition (failed celebrities aside)... its people like the employees of the Service Industry, a field I worked in for 9 years.

Given that the rich citizens of America have financial, political and social means to avoid the consequences of marijuana prohibition, I am very glad to see the Unions finally stepping up and speaking for the rest of us! We should not be disproportionately suffering from prohibition, so its high time that our voice was heard: We will not be your Drug War cannon fodder any longer.

Who cares this union is all about money and the leaders are criminals. Who cares, the ballot measure will lose come vote time.

what lame jokes.

Yes legalize cannabis for those of proper age.
Tax it.. I guess, and generate millions in revenue
and end this failed drug war.
Prohibition never worked and never will.

Cannabis 2010

Vote yes on prop 19! It will raise money and save the state millions in prison/legal costs.

Marijuana is the largest cash crop in California and cultivating, curing and retailing it are very labor intensive. Smart move by SEIU to outflank the Teamsters who just organized the Oakland marijuana workers. By next year, the industry will have over 100,000 workers making very good salaries as California feeds the nation - again.

Vote YES on Proposition 19. Stop ruining the lives of marijuana users by sending them to jail. These people are your brothers, sisters, daughters and sons.

Stop wasting our tax dollars with law enforcement of such a relatively harmless, non-toxic, herbal, and proven medicinal substance.

Yes on Prop 19, Yes to freedom of choice!

It takes just five minutes, right now, to change the world.

Jesus said to treat other people the way we would want to be treated. I know I wouldn’t want my college kid to go to jail with the sexual predators, or my parents to have their house stolen by the police, if they used a little marijuana.

Let’s put a stop to this nonsense. Google your state name and the phrase, voter registration. Print off the form and mail it in (or drive it down to City Hall).

If you are a citizen of California or go to college in California, check out
w w w . sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm
(just fill out the form and mail it in)
And you can request a ballot by mail at
w w w . sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_m.htm

Five minutes. Register to vote. Pass it on. Change the world. Right now.

I'm not a big fan of Unions however there will be plenty of money and jobs from this "Pot Rush" revolution. The good thing is that they bring votes, money and politicians and will most likely make the prop pass. A possible side effect of this will be that the prices of Pot might go up in the future to afford the Unions involvement. Also it will be interesting to see which side the silent majority falls to. Voting YES on Prop 19 you should too!

@Michael White -

Teens already believe that marijuana use is ok -- DESPITE the fact that the government has been pumping lies about the drug down their throats since elementary school. In fact, the controversy around marijuana makes it MORE APPEALING to teens going through a "rebellious" stage.

It's far easier for teens to get their hands on marijuana than it is for teens to get a bottle of alcohol.

I agree we should be promoting healthy lifestyles. How about we tell kids the truth about marijuana, and they can decide whether to use it like they decide whether or not to drink alcohol. The current drug policy is clearly not working, and legalization is a huge step in the right direction.

If "labor" is for this proposition, then it must mean they want the "growers/dispensaries" to become union members along with all the illegal aliens in the state which will be growing it and voting mindlessly for democrats. First the unions didn't want illegals in this country, then they did (money and votes)to take away jobs from US citizens.
Let me quess, new "union" contracts will want "dope days off", or at least have the rest of the public pay for it as a benefit to union workers.

Marijuana is harmless?? LOL wut?? Even "holy mushrooms" have side effects...

Say NO to marijuana! Drug use is NOT ok! Help prevent us teens from going down the wrong path! People are not ruined because marijuana is legal - people are ruined because of what the drug can do to them! I've seen it happen!!

at michael white, hey dude try spending sometime with teenagers, they have alot of stress and pressures to deal with already, listen to them and youl understand why they do what they do, dont u remember how u acted in high school, i bet u was a bully huh?JK, anywho you should try it sometime youll see whats up.

This is to MICHAEL WHITE. First off, the union has nothing to do with the legalization other then thier support. Get over it. Theyre the intelligent ones. You just sound stupid. Second, We waste SOO much money to have people in prison for minor marijuana offenses, when in all actuality, we are not dangerous people. Hurray for wasting our taxpayer dollars. Third, do you enjoy your caffiene in the morning? maybe a drink at night? If so, your just as much drug dependent as everyone else. Fourth, just because you do marijuana, doesnt mean you do it to be happy. And even so, tell a manic depressent that. In which case marijuana actually may help them. Fifth, i would rather my son smoke marijuana then drink. Marijuana is shown to be one of thee most least addictive substances as well as one of the least toxic. In fact, Marijuana may even help prevent certain types of cancer. Your trying to tell people, this god given plant is bad? reanalyze. educate yourself. Be open minded. STOP AMERICAS FAILED SO CALLED "WAR ON DRUGS" AND LEGALIZE MARIJUANA! God Bless!!

Hey uncle_Vito, union=stoner losers? Did you know unions fought for the eight hour work day, just about every government holiday, safe work places, help establish anti discrimination laws, health insurance.... Lots of things, many non union people benifit from, but never acknowledge the battle that brings such things. Not bad for a bunch of stoner losers. You forgot lazy. Signed by a proud union electrician with 5 years of college(electrical theory). I bet I'm smarter than you and work harder too.

I think that legalizing weed would be good because it could help our state California in debt like the article said."help avoid cuts to health care,education,and all @ Micheal White really? it's in moral so smoke marijuana? so what about drinking?Alcohol has destroyed families and cause death by drunk drivers,i been smoking weed since i was 13,I'm 21 i live on my own i pay bills,rent,i smoke go out like any regular person maybe your brother or sisters where doing crack,look people aren't use to change and it's about time that we legalize marijuana even back in the days marijuana we okay the government encourage hemp smoking in commercials

Hopefully Prop. 19 will pass.... This proposition will help california out in a tremendous way and help the already congested correctional facility system to lessen the regular people it criminalizes already.. less people to jail... tax cannabis and regulate it so we can already enjoy it as we do alcohol and cigarrettes which actually kills more people than marijuana does.... cmon CALIFORNIA!! lets show the rest of these uncool geezer baby boomers (which probably smoked weed themselves in the 60s and 70s!!) that legalizing marijuana will work (and help the economy)!!!


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: