National labor board breaks new ground by recognizing complaints against …

March 3rd, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Maine — The National Labor Relations Board has entered uncharted territory by validating allegations of worker retaliation and union-busting practices by the Wellness Connection of Maine, which grows medical marijuana for distribution in the state.

But while the country’s top food workers’ union hailed the board recognition as a victory in its labor battle with the company, a board official cast doubt on the union’s spin.

And a Wellness Connection attorney said the company has all but settled the year-old dispute and is planning to move beyond the labor clash.

“For all intents and purposes, we’ve agreed with the NLRB on the terms of the settlement,” said attorney Matt LaMourie of the Portland law firm Preti Flaherty, on behalf of the company. “Now they’re doing what they need to be doing internally to finalize that.”

According to a Thursday announcement by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the U.S. government board — which polices labor relations and practices — had never before recognized a dispute involving medical marijuana operations, which are legal under certain states’ laws but still officially prohibited under federal laws.

By agreeing to hear a series of 10 claims by Wellness Connection employees that the grower breached National Labor Relations Act standards, the board not only legitimized the fledgling medical marijuana industry on a federal scale, but it also revived what had become a dormant scandal for one of that industry’s major regional players.

In a Thursday morning news release, the food workers’ union — which has hoped to

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