June 13th, 2014 | by KATE WILLSON News | Posted In: Activism, Drugs, PDX Votes, Politics

Canvassers for Marijuana Legalization Measures Form Union, Demand Free Pot

     
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lede_weed_3812Photo Illustration by Carolyn Richardson

Canvassers hired by the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp to gather signatures on two marijuana legalization bills say it's not enough to be paid $15 an hour and earn daily and weekly bonuses.

They also want to be paid on time and get free weed. (See a full list of demands here.)

Eight canvassers have gone on strike, saying their Friday, June 6 pay checks didn't arrive until the following Monday, June 9. Some striking employees say their May 20 checks also bounced.

"We want some form of contract that dictates what the pay structure is, the bonus structure," says canvasser Duncan Lopez. "It's sort of a confusing system."

The initiatives are the latest effort by activist Paul Stanford to legalize weed in Oregon.

The campaign worked with employees on a case-by-case basis to make sure they were paid, says Leo Townsell, communications director for CRRH. Everyone was offered a bump in pay and additional bonuses if they agreed to work through the weekend, until their checks came in.

Instead eight canvassers went on strike and, with help from the Industrial Workers of the World, they formed the United Campaign Workers Union.

The canvassers are seeking a list of demands including "turf autonomy," the ability to hire and fire campaign leadership and free medical marijuana. They also want a written contract assuring they make $15 an hour minimum wage and overtime pay.

"No one here has a contract," says Townsell. 

And the late pay check? 

"I wasn't happy to get my check later either," he says. "And I went into a negative balance to help them get through the weekend. But I trusted my boss and our chief petitioners that they would come through. And they did."

Dennis Gravey, an organizer with Industrial Workers of the World, says, "the important part is that they were told they were going to be paid and they weren't." 

 
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