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Cannabis Labor Activism

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It should not surprise you that a lot of the libertarian douchebros who run weed dealerships are horrible employers. Luckily, at least on the west coast, a lot of those workers have organized with the United Food and Commercial Workers. They need that representation and strikes may be on the horizon.

Delivery drivers and other workers at the US’s largest cannabis-delivery company are threatening to strike in what would probably be the biggest work stoppage to hit the cannabis industry.

Nearly 600 workers at 11 depot locations owned by Eaze, a cannabis-delivery company in southern and northern California, are threatening to strike over pay and conditions.

Eaze, founded in 2014 in San Francisco with millions of dollars in venture-backed funding, including from Snoop Dogg, has been characterized as the “Uber of weed”. The privately held company was valued at more than $700m in 2021.

Two of their biggest investors, Thomas Jermoluk and the tech billionaire James Henry Clarkreportedly own a 35% share of the private company.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has characterized the strike as “unprecedented” and said the strike vote was called after workers resoundingly rejected Eaze’s last and final union contract offer.

If the workers walk off the job, it would probably be the biggest work stoppage to hit the cannabis industry in the US, which has seen an uptick in union organizing and labor unrest as the pace of corporatization in the cannabis industry has accelerated.

Among the unresolved issues include a mileage rate pay cut implemented by Eaze after the workers unionized that the company has refused to address in contract negotiations.

Ron Swallow has worked as a delivery driver for Eaze in Los Angeles for around 2.5 years. He said pay and scheduling were good when he started working but that Eaze started unilaterally implementing cuts to work schedules and staffing at the depot where their deliveries are sourced from. He and his co-workers unionized with near unanimous support in March 2023 in response to the changes they were experiencing.

Then in the summer of 2023, Swallow said, the pay for drivers was significantly cut. Workers have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the unilateral change made outside of bargaining.

“They cut our mileage rate. We’d been hired at 56 cents a mile and then they cut it to 42 cents,” said Swallow. “That cost drivers $300 to $700 a month on average, depending on how much you drive and that was pretty annoying. It was also the first time in my whole life I’ve ever come to a job and then been told I was going to get paid less.”

Due to the lack of progress in negotiations, the workers voted to authorize a strike if no progress was made before 20 April, one of the busiest sales days in the cannabis industry.

A strike on 4/20 would be the only useful political action to come from that incredibly annoying day.

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