A California chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has begun distributing a flyer that blasts cannabis delivery company Eaze over what it says is a lack of good faith at the negotiating table.
The flyer, which began circulating after talks between the company’s leadership and the UFCW Local 5 hit a wall in late August, is designed to bring more attention to the dispute, said Jim Araby, strategic campaigns director for the local.
“The new owners of Eaze, outside billionaires from Colorado, think that you will continue to work for peanuts,” the flyer blares.
The UFCW’s Araby said that Eaze has been essentially taken over by Leder and her family, including her husband Andrew Levine, who own Colorado-based Green Dragon.
When Eaze purchased Green Dragon in 2021, Eaze reported it had more than $190 million in transaction value over the previous 12 months, with average monthly revenue increasing 75% between 2019 and 2020.
Messages seeking comment from Eaze and Green Dragon were not immediately returned Friday.
In the months leading up to the flyer, negotiations broke down after Eaze employees at a San Francisco delivery hub, which does business as HomeTown Heart, began expressing a desire for a contract similar to one brokered by the UFCW at another Eaze facility in Oakland, Araby said. The Oakland contract guaranteed workers modest pay raises, better reimbursement for gasoline and better consistency in shift scheduling.
“We negotiated some of those things into the East Bay contract, and the San Francisco workers were like, ‘We want that,'” Araby said, adding that many delivery drivers are literally losing money at work due to $7 a gallon gas prices in the San Francisco Bay Area.
But Eaze executives haven’t been willing to strike a deal, he said, and have claimed that the delivery company is not profitable and doesn’t have extra cash to spend on employee benefits.
Company reps even tried recently to “walk back” some concessions they’d already agreed to, according to Araby.
That led to the creation of the flyer, and it may be just the start of a campaign against Eaze, Araby said, unless a deal gets struck in the near future.
“When you’ve got a couple billionaires sitting atop the company, and the company’s saying they have no money, we think that’s disingenuous,” Araby said. “I’m all about diplomacy, but if you want to go to war, I’m ready.”
Leder made a fortune in Florida real estate and from a previous marriage, and Eaze merged with Green Dragon in 2021. Araby said that based on UFCW’s research, Leder owns 29% of Eaze.
According to a former Eaze executive who spoke with Green Market Report on condition of anonymity, the Eaze board of directors went to Leder and her family earlier in 2022 for a financial bail out.
That gave Leder and Levine essentially carte blanche to make major changes within the company, the executive said, including making Eaze much more anti-union, a reputation that Green Dragon developed in Colorado.
It also led to a purging of staff at the top of the company, the executive said, which brought in a major culture change, including a “union-busting” attitude that originated in Colorado.
The former executive said that while Leder and her family did agree to help raise money for Eaze, they stipulated that most or all of it would be used to fund expansion in Florida instead of paying for operations in California.
And the anti-union approach by some of the Eaze team, the former executive said, likely will backfire in the pro-labor state of California, just as it did in Colorado, where workers eventually won out and unionized in June.
Labor has occasionally flexed its muscle against cannabis companies, particularly in California.
For instance, in 2020, a trio of labor groups sent a letter to the California Democratic Party, requesting that a major marijuana trade organization be shut out of political negotiations because it had been spreading “anti-union literature.” (The trade group denied being anti-union.)
Unions, Marijuana and Labor Day
The Eaze-UFCW dispute also arose just before Labor Day, and when asked how he felt about the organized labor relationship with the cannabis industry at large, Araby said, “It’s a mixed bag.”
“If you look at the largest companies in this space, the Parent Co., Statehouse, Glass House, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, we don’t have a good relationship, or any relationship, with those groups,” Araby said.
But the UFCW and other unions – including the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union – have been making slow but steady inroads with marijuana workers for years, he acknowledged.
The UFCW in particular has led the charge for labor, and currently represents roughly 5,000 members in California and nearly 10,000 nationwide, Araby said.