Hobson and his colleagues were upset that wages were capped at forty hours a week, with no overtime pay. They were frustrated that management had begun taking the store’s tip-jar money without posting the public notice required of Colorado employers who collect gratuities.
According to Hobson, he hadn’t been given a vacation day or any other employment benefits since he’d started working at the business nearly a year earlier. “I was there for maybe a month before I started thinking this was an industry that needed a union,” Hobson recalls.
In March 2016, Hobson had finally contacted UFCW Local 7, the Colorado and Wyoming-based chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which he’d heard was trying to organize cannabis workers. With the help of a union organizer, Hobson persuaded seven of the shop’s ten employees to sign a collective-bargaining petition, the first step in organizing a company’s workers. The next step, he hoped, would be an employee election officially recognizing the union. Organizers believed that if it all worked out, Pueblo West Organics would be the first unionized marijuana business in Colorado.
Instead, everything fell apart.
Two days after the meeting, the store manager told Hobson that he was being fired for a cash-register error made several weeks earlier. It was a mistake that Hobson had reported at the time, a common error that he says others had made with no major repercussions. The manager also told Hobson he was banned from all Pueblo West Organics properties (the company has grows and a production facility in addition to the single dispensary).
Hobson was surprised, but he still had a chance to make it all work out. According to labor law, the union election would still happen — and Hobson’s vote would count if there was a tie. Once the shop was organized, he