historic image of workers strike black and white

Green Unrest: The Cannabis Delivery Driver Strike in California

by | Apr 10, 2024

historic image of workers strike black and white

Written by Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer and B2B content marketer living in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, Analytical Cannabis, and Grow Mag among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands.

In a landmark action, California’s cannabis delivery drivers, represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, are gearing up for a major strike ahead of the industry’s busiest day, 4/20. This decision highlights the deep-seated issues within delivery, including inadequate mileage reimbursement, low hourly wages, and concerns over safety and benefits. 

Labor Conditions at the Heart of Cannabis Delivery Driver Strike

This strike, authorized by the drivers and backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), is not a decision made lightly. It follows months of unsuccessful bargaining over critical issues like mileage reimbursement, hourly wages, employee safety, scheduling, and access to affordable benefits.

The strike’s roots can be traced to last year when many local cannabis delivery depots, including the Lincoln location in Venice, voted to join the UFCW Local 770 union. This move was propelled by changes to company policies and working conditions that raised serious concerns about workplace safety and the overall treatment of employees.

The workers’ move to unionize and the subsequent decision to strike underscore a broader narrative of labor rights and workplace safety within the rapidly commercializing cannabis industry.

According to a statement issued by the union:

Eaze/Stachs’ recent offer did not meet the worker’s key objectives, which include raising the mileage reimbursement rate, increasing hourly wages, and ensuring a minimum number of hours. Despite the company’s refusal to give workers what they deserve, the union remains committed to negotiations in the hope of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement and avoiding a work stoppage.

UFCW Local 770

This follows on the heels of three UFCW locals who filed complaints against Eaze/Stachs with the National Labor Relations Board. These cases allege failure to share worker info and unilateral contract modifications, especially with mileage reimbursement. Two complaints were lodged on June 7, with a third by Local 770 on March 25. All are pending resolution.

Worker sentiment is at an all-time low, with many blaming executives for the current challenges. Green Market Report heard from driver Austin Williams, who said, “We are the reason for the company’s profits, and while they’re getting richer, we’re barely scraping by.”

Harmony Roberts, a delivery driver for Eaze/Stachs, explained the situation to The Patch: “It is unacceptable that the company seems to care more about its bottom line than the safety of its employees,” she declared. This opinion is echoed across the state, with over 500 unionized workers voting to authorize the cannabis delivery driver strike

Cannabis Delivery Driver Strike Set to Hit the Biggest Day of the Year

The 420 holiday looms over cannabis delivery drivers strike

As the strike looms, preparations are underway for a sign-making session at the UFCW Local 770 headquarters, signaling the seriousness of the workers’ resolve. This event, expected to draw cannabis workers and their supporters, will not only be a venue for creating picket signs but also for showcasing artistic displays of cannabis culture. It’s a unique blend of protest and celebration of the industry they wish to improve.

All of this is happening as April 20 rapidly approaches. With dispensaries banking on this cannabis holiday to make up a major part of their annual revenue, everyone is watching closely. Cova, a major POS software company, reported in 2022 that retailers made approximately 130 percent more on 420 than on a regular sales day. Headset suggested it was even greater, a 148 percent increase.

Whatever the number, this strike could have far-reaching implications for everyone in the industry if drivers refuse to deliver on the year’s largest cannabis sales day. Brands, dispensaries, and owners could very well see sales slump compared to previous years.

Not to mention the greater impact on labor relations in the industry. A strike may influence how companies across the sector address workers’ rights. It’s a moment ripe for reflection on the balance between profitability and ethical labor practices, serving as a critical test for the cannabis industry’s social responsibility.

Cannabis Delivery Driver Strike Indicating All is Not Well in California

The impending strike is not just a standoff over contractual terms; it’s a critical dialogue about the value and recognition of labor in the cannabis sector. It highlights a growing consciousness among cannabis workers about their rights and a push for a safer, more equitable work environment. 

The drivers’ actions could set a precedent for labor practices across the industry, emphasizing the importance of worker safety, fair compensation, and respect for the individuals who are the backbone of the cannabis supply chain. This strike could have far-reaching implications — not just for Eaze but for the rest of California’s brands and dispensaries banking on 420 sales.

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