The War on Wages

Employees are the lifeblood of a business. If you’re a businesses owner, you know that a good employee with proper training and strong ethics will help your own business succeed. But larger corporations often lose sight of this; instead of rewarding their employees for their hard work, corporations skip the raises and put employees through difficult and often unsafe work conditions. The topic of treating employees fairly has been trending for some time, but at least in comparison, the emerging legal cannabis community is ahead of the game when it comes to a promising wage and work environment.

The cannabis industry is poised to be both a reliable and caring industry. Analysts have predicted that if cannabis were completely legalized across the board, that it would create over one million jobs. In Colorado alone, the cannabis industry created an estimated 18,000 jobs in 2015. While the wages of these jobs will certainly vary, the trend of increasing wages in other industries has already been implemented in cannabis. According to U.S. News, one dispensary in Maryland, called Kannavis, starts employees out at $15 per hour. Similarly Terra tech, which employs a total of 315 individuals between California and Nevada, offers an average of $17 per hour. The average hourly rate at cannabis businesses in Washington State is $16 per hour. In Michigan, the average hourly wage is between $12-$14.

Not only are wages acceptable at most cannabis businesses, but many of the cannabis industry’s retail stores are mom-and-pop oriented, meaning that they’re small and value the work of a reliable employee. Some have even reached out to those whose cannabis convictions were recently expunged, in an attempt to both offer them a job and support community members. Others have reached out to college students looking for jobs after graduation as well.

On the other hand, some of the country’s most profitable companies have been receiving backlash for harmful work environments and low minimum wage. Employees who work at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World in Florida,  have been fighting with their union for better wages for some time now. After months of picketing for improved, livable wages, Disney eventually agreed to lift minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021. However detailed caveats in this proposal show evidence that in exchange for this increase, Disney wants to alter how employees receive pay for overtime and holiday work.

Amazon has also been under scrutiny, especially following an article by The Seattle Times that unveiled stressful work environments that included limited bathroom breaks which forced some employees to complete their business in an empty bottle. This was in an effort to stay on top of their daily target; one employee stated that if they did not do this, “the numbers start to bite you.” Ironically, Amazon warehouse workers do receive $15 minimum wage, but sometimes at the cost of their well-being.

But employees raising awareness has garnered the attention of the country, thus receiving at least some of what they hoped for. Walmart announced earlier this year that it would raise minimum wage to $11 per hour for its workers, and also planned to improve benefits regarding maternity and parental leave.

The cannabis industry isn’t without its issues, but it’s certainly on its way to a much more promising career option for many people in this country.

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