Legalizing pot has opened the floodgates to a new multibillion dollar industry in multiple states. But where there are high profits, there’s often high exploitation. The experience of unionized cannabis delivery drivers and warehouse workers who belong to Grassdoor Workers provides an instructive example of exploitative practices found across industries, and how workers can organize to fight back. Despite the best efforts of management to keep employees isolated from one another, Grassdoor workers managed to organize in response to company wage theft and successfully joined their Teamsters local. Grassdoor Workers organizer “G” speaks with The Real News.
Studio Production: Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: David Hebden
The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.
Hello everyone. This is Vince reporting for The Real News Network. Today we want to get high. Talk a little bit about the cannabis industry. One that’s been booming since the legalization in various states in the past couple years, and one that is unfortunately highly exploitative of its workers. Today we’re going to paint that picture for you guys, speaking to our special guest, G, from over in California, an organizer at Grassdoor. G, thanks for joining us, man, and making the time. How are you today?
Thank you, Vince. I’m doing really well. Really appreciate you guys letting me tell our story, and I’m really happy to be representing all the workers who are actively working at this company and actively fighting to get better working conditions for themselves and for every worker in the cannabis industry.
Oh yeah, and I think that’s super, super, super inspirational. And getting to know a little bit of your story, it’s really interesting to see the obstacles that you’ve overcome as well as some of the things that organizing in the cannabis industry can maybe teach people in other industries organizing. And so with that being said, I just want to get a little bit into who are you? What is your role at Grassdoor? What did you do? What did that fight look like?
Thank you. I started off at Grassdoor around the spring of 2019, and I started off as one of their delivery drivers. And it seemed like a cool job at the time because I got to be alone in my car for eight to 10 hours a day and just mostly listen to podcasts, listen to music and deliver weed to people. And for a while I was really content with that until the pandemic hit. Right around when the lockdowns started clamping down on everything that’s when I got moved off the road and behind a desk and I became one of their logistics specialists. A router. I did that job for three years, and after about the second year, right around December, that’s when I could just see how miserable the entire fleet that I was working with and part of my job as a logistics specialist and the router was to help out the drivers with all their issues, whether they were having issues with customers or whether they were having issues with their system or whether they needed to find a good place to use the bathroom. Because like I said earlier, they’re out there for 10 hours a day.
Some people who could stomach it will stay out there for 12 hours a day sometimes. And when I saw the type of conditions and the type of dangers that had been getting progressively worse for these drivers and workers, that’s when I knew that these workers needed some protection. And so I had reached out to a union and … Well, I’m not going to say their name. But I reached out to a union and they never got back to me. I never really had any type of correspondence until they said that there was another group that already had a deal with Grassdoor for exclusivity, but they didn’t tell me who they were and I felt like I hit a dead end.
And I had seen from how workers who had brought up union efforts in the past in that company had been treated and reprimanded, soft union busting, I knew that it was not a good idea for me to go around asking my managers who would I go talk to get a union formed. I was very fortunate when a driver reached out to me in July of last year and just through some of our conversations that we would have at work, they started to realize that I might be sympathetic to a little plan that they had cooking. We exchanged private info and started talking on our non-work lines. And through a series of very specific and poignant questions, she was able to deduce that I was able to help out with this effort and that it wouldn’t have any legal conflicts with my position because I was not in charge of hiring or firing or no one’s job performance was on me and I didn’t really have a say in the conditions of that workplace. I wasn’t a supervisor of any sort.
Starting around July of last year, I went to a meeting at Teamster’s Local 630 over in Skid Row. And that was the first time I met most of the drivers at my work. And I had already been working there for three years at that point and I really only knew one or two people at that company and there was about 500 of us at that time. And especially once I started working remote during the pandemic, that’s when I really never saw anybody. And so it was a really big moment for all of us to finally see who were the people that … For me to meet some of the drivers that I had been talking to for years now and never having shaken their hand or looking them in the eye before. And we all came together and met with the Teamsters crew, the organizers over at Teamsters Local 630. And we all had the common goal of changing the working conditions for these people who were risking their lives, destroying their cars, taking so much time out of their lives during a period when everybody else was receiving assistance and receiving EDD, unemployment.
And here in California, the government assistance that people received … I’m not sure how it compared to other states, but a lot of lower wage workers ended up earning more money with the Covid protections than they did when they were going to work. Once everybody shook the fear of traveling off a little bit, I started to see people go out and enjoy their lives. Meanwhile, all of us who are still working at this company, we missed out on all that quality family time that people really got to enjoy during the lockdown. And I was listening to people over the phone describing robberies that they had just had, or sometimes some other people in my department, they would listen to phone calls as somebody was actively getting robbed.
Because these delivery drivers, they are a last mile delivery drivers, so they deliver it to people’s houses and you’re in a very vulnerable spot. These drivers drive an excess of a hundred miles a day and all those miles are going into their cars and it’s destroying their cars. A lot of the drivers at this company are so close to homelessness, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were drivers who had to live out of their cars because of just the cost of inflation and the fact that people had to pay for their own gas, people had to pay for their own maintenance. And this company was ruthless in just demanding more time and asking for more and more of these minimum wage workers who really didn’t have any help outside of whatever emotional support I was able to provide them over the phone because managers never went out of their way for anyone in the company. And I think that’s a pretty universal feeling amongst the drivers.
So when we got together and started organizing, we were finally able to discuss a lot of the things that people had felt were unusual about our workplace. There was a lot of soft union busting tactics that had been put in place and presented as policy without ever really being written down anywhere. It would be policies like if you get an order from us … Which why wouldn’t you order from the company you worked for? At the time when I started our discount was 50%. And then that slowly changed and until after a year it went down to 30%. When you would order, you were not to out yourself to the driver who delivered to you that you were an employee for Grassdoor. There was this rule that was passed down by the now head of security. He would discourage any communication between the drivers. He would instruct drivers that when you’re waiting at the hub, roll up your passenger side window so that you cannot talk to the driver on that side. And if the driver on the other side also raises their passenger side window when they start their shift, then no one is essentially able to cross that glass barrier that’s between all the drivers.
That system was pretty effective for years at keeping people isolated, keeping people in their little bubbles. And so the unintended consequence for them was nobody developed any trust with anybody because nobody spoke to each other. And the only person that they would speak to were the people in my department providing them driver support and logistical support. There’s never really been more than five people in my department. So you’re talking about … At least at first, for the first number of years, there was never really more than five of us or six of us who were taking calls from the drivers. And we’re talking about a fleet of almost 500 drivers. There was never a time when we were all staffed at the same time either. And so because of that and because of the disorganization of management at that company, the only voice that people really got acclimated to were the people that they were calling and that were helping them. And so once I got involved with the union effort, I was able to use the trust that I built just by being myself over the phone, just by being-
The guy that people go to for problems. Yeah.
Right. Right. And people would call me even if I wasn’t working, just to see if what the other person told them was even real or not. And I would always tell people how to work around whatever barriers people had placed in the systems whenever I could. But even then, there was only so much that I could do. And so when July of 2022 came around, I started making calls to drivers and there was a serendipitous event that happened at around that time where one of our former employees had filed a … It’s an acronym. It’s called PAGA. It’s a labor law in California that protects employees against wage theft. It allows workers to be deputized by the Attorney General’s office and collect a reward for reporting unfair labor practices or wage stuff. And so this employee did that. And people who had been affected started receiving a letter and telling them that they had won a settlement and they could be expecting a check in the mail.
And so I was able to use that as a gateway into starting this conversation with the drivers that I would call. And a typical recruitment would go like this. A driver would call with a work-related issue and I could hear the frustration on their phone. And this is probably a driver that has probably vented to me several times before. And sometimes they would come at the people that they were on the phone with with a lot of frustration and a lot of hostility. It was understandable because they were put in these very dangerous situations day in and day out. I would sense that in what they were describing to me, and I would ask them like, “Oh, would it be okay if I reached out to you on a different line? I have to keep this line open for other drivers in case there’s an emergency or something like that, but I’m more than happy to continue assisting you on a separate channel if you’re comfortable with that.”
And every driver was cool with that. And thankfully I had everybody’s personal information because that’s just part of the contact information that I had access to and that I would use in certain situations. If I couldn’t get ahold of drivers on their work lines, we would be encouraged to reach out to them on their personal lines. And so I would call them on their personal phone, and I would feel them out at first because I was really scared of potentially outing myself and jeopardizing what I thought was a really good opportunity to make a lot of change for a lot of people in the company that we were all working at. And so as I would be talking to these drivers and they’d be venting their frustrations, I would say something like, “Oh yeah, did you know that Grassdoor’s been breaking the law and stealing money from its employees? Yeah. They just got busted. In fact, you probably received a letter. What time did you start working?”
And so people would look in their mail or dig through the mail, and they might have set it aside and they see this letter from this law agency. And I would tell them, “Oh, check page two. See how much money you’re getting on this.” These were not insignificant amounts of money that had been stolen from these employees by this company. We’re talking somewhere … I’ll be completely straightforward. I received roughly $900 from the settlement, and that goes a long way. And so it was really easy to get people going about their disdain for this company. And because the company had been so dehumanizing to their employees, I became the only real voice that people felt comfortable talking to and I would get them going. And once I felt that I had a real connection with these drivers, I would present them with this option of I know how we can change this workplace, and I know how we can make actual change happen. And the only way we’re going to do that is by organizing. The only way that we even have a say in our working conditions is by organizing.
And everybody would ask, “Well, how do I do that? Who do I talk to?” And I would just tell them, well, you could meet so-and-so and we would have a Teamsters organizer somewhere by the facility at Grassdoor and I would just tell them, “Go talk to that person. They’ll have a support card. All you got to do is sign the support card. The company will never find out that you signed a support card. I’ll never tell the company.” And they knew that was true because people would tell me secrets all the time. That was a very effective recruiting method because not only did they feel comfortable talking to me because of whatever personal relationship we had established, but they also got to talk to somebody from Teamsters and ask them questions and make a real face-to-face connection with somebody, which is something that’s severely lacking in our company. Nobody has real face-to-face interactions with anybody else in that company.
I think that’s so fascinating to consider. I reflect on my own organizing drive at Home Depot or various organizers that I’ve talked to. I guess you take for granted the fact that it’s like, hey, yeah, if you want, you can go just openly engage with your coworkers that work in the department next to you.
We didn’t have a break room.
And to your point, Grassdoor just went through so much effort to try and keep you guys little islands, basically. In a way, it’s crazy to think about because it’s in a moment of providence, you come down, you make a connection with one of the drivers and so now the drivers go from being these little satellites to now there’s a connecting through line that can bring them all together. It’s absolutely amazing to consider because again, I just feel like that adds such a degree of difficulty. And again, something where I guess I took for granted being able to just go and walk up to a coworker, “Hey, let me get your phone number real quick.” Man, it just sounds crazy what you guys had to go through. Even for all of those dominoes to fall in place for you to make that connection with that driver, for you guys to be on the same wavelength, and then for you to just have the wherewithal to understand the position that you’re in and the outreach that you have, that’s absolutely insane to consider.
I’ve honestly never been prouder of anything that I’ve done for my coworkers. Because the empathy that I had for them, it cut deep. I would even tell my family about some of the situations that I would hear over the phone and some of the traumas that these drivers were sharing with me and I just felt so guilty because I was comfortable. I was at home with my pets, sipping on tea whenever I felt like it. I could use the restroom. I didn’t have to look for a Target or deal with any line at the restroom. And another thing that made it really easy to organize is the state of California has … When cannabis became recreationally legal in California, Governor Gavin Newsom put in this stipulation for anyone trying to get their cannabis license that they had to sign what’s called a labor peace agreement. And we just shortened that to an LPA.
And what that is, it’s essentially a terms of engagement that the recreational cannabis company had to make with a major union. And so the DCC mandated that. You had to have this labor peace agreement in place but not a lot of people … I didn’t know what a labor peace agreement was. And even other organizers that I’ve spoken to since then that are not involved in the cannabis industry have never heard of the term. I would’ve been right there with you had I not been working at this company. And one of the things that made it easier for us was part of this labor peace agreement was an acknowledgement from the company that they would not retaliate against workers in the driver and warehouse department for engaging in this concerted activity. If they wanted to unionize, the company said they wouldn’t put them in any of those captive audience meetings, and that they wouldn’t harass them or discourage them at all from joining. They were supposed to stay out of it. In return, the union would not try to put together a strike or a boycott or badmouth them to the press or anything like that.
So what that did provide us with was also a shortcut. Because another term of this labor peace agreement was that we would not have to have an election in order to be recognized as a union. All that would have to happen is they would need 50% plus one of the eligible workers to be recognized formally by the company as a union. And so it just became a numbers game. And so the company was also supposed to provide teamsters with a list of who all the drivers were, what their categorization was, and contact information so they would be able to reach out to them and pitch them their collective bargaining rights, and ask them if they wanted to band together and unionize.
And so by avoiding the election, all we needed was people to sign these anonymous support cards. The culture of fear in that company was so ingrained that a lot of people were so scared that some people would even get cold feet in front of the organizers because they would still think that it was a setup. And it took a lot just to convince people that we were not trying to pull one over on them. The other thing about this labor peace agreement that was supposed to happen was Grassdoor management was supposed to provide a captive audience meeting for Teamsters where they would bring everybody in a room, introduced Teamsters, and then Grassdoor management and execs, they were to leave and let the Teamsters people have an hour with this audience in order for them to make a pitch to see if they wanted to exercise their collective bargaining rights. And these are all measures that the state of California put in place specifically because they saw the potential for workers to be exploited by this new industry that had a lot of money in it.
One of the things that I found very inspiring about that, and one of the main messages that I really want to get across to every cannabis worker in California, and this might even be the case in other states that have recreational cannabis, is that for sure in California, if you work for a recreational licensed cannabis company, there is a labor peace agreement in place with that company and a major union. And more than likely, that labor peace agreement is going to expire in 2025. So clock’s ticking. If you are in a cannabis company, and you … First off, if you’re in a cannabis company, you should want to organize your workplace. I cannot tell you how much your employers are lying to you about how much money they’re making. I do not believe for a second whenever any of these executives or these bosses tell us that they’re not making any money or that they’re losing money on cannabis, because there’s just no way. There’s just no way. Unless they’re really bad at managing their money, cannabis is literally a cash crop. It’s money that grows from the ground and you light it up and you smoke it. There’s nothing more magical than that. It’s a literal money tree.
Yeah. And to that point, I would say for regular viewers of The Real News Network, Max, the editor-in-chief, did an interview with a couple cannabis workers, and that was a sentiment that was echoed there as well, to your point, that this is a very lucrative industry. From the conversation that he had as well as the conversation we’re having here, it seems like part of the reason why it’s so lucrative is because it’s built off of the backs of exploiting their workers. To your point, that labor peace agreement, and from what you’ve described in this conversation, they’re aware of it obviously. That’s something that was passed into law, yet they still continue to participate, as you said, in soft union busting and trying to isolate workers, which it feels like contributes to the apprehension that workers have. I think that’s so reasonable for people to feel scared and to be like, “Oh, is this a setup?” Because of the fact that part of this movement, part of organizing is the feeling of solidarity, but how can you feel solidarity when you’re alone all the time, when you’re always feeling alone?
And I think that’s just, again, such a testament to someone such as yourself, stepping up to your point in a position where you felt comfortable, where you honestly had more to lose than to gain. And to go in to make that argument to people and to try and be the rallying point for the drivers. It’s such an important point to make in something that I definitely want to double down with you onto other workers in the cannabis industry where it’s like, this is something for sure that is important for you guys, because to your point, there’s a lot of money to be made. But what it seems like is happening just as it’s happening in other industries, is the workers are the ones making all the money that then the executives are running away with while the workers hold the bag. I find it important to also bring up from our previous conversations, you faced retaliation as a result of this. You weren’t able to get away from this scott free. Can you tell the listeners some of the retaliation that you faced?
I’m happy to go into that. So that labor peace agreement protected the drivers and warehouse workers. It did not protect anyone in my department. In the logistical customer service department. For that reason, I had people that I really cared deeply about in my department. One of the people in there has been my best friend my entire life. We went to middle school together, did improv all throughout our high school careers and kept in touch. We’ve always lived about five minutes away from each other. Even when we moved to different cities, somehow we’d always end up roughly in the same neighborhood. So I did not want anything to happen to any of my coworkers. And this was a risk that at first I was willing to take on by myself because I knew that they didn’t have the protection and I knew I would feel awful if anyone else got reprimanded or retaliated against because of my actions. But things started getting so worse in my department, and I could feel that same level of anxiety that was happening to the workers that were on the road now starting to creep into the workers that were comfortably at home. And we had people in our department who were pregnant, people who were sick, people who were taking care of sick relatives. That’s a boat that I’m currently in. I’m taking care of my dad who had a stroke last year. It’s been difficult.
It was only made possible by the community that we ended up building for ourselves, that we were able to encourage each other to stick with it. And we encourage each other to take action and band together and try to exercise those same protections that the drivers and warehouse workers would get by collective bargaining. Now, we wouldn’t have the protection of the LPA, but section seven of the National Labor Relations Act protects all workers on a federal level. Not federal workers, but it’s a federal protection granted to all hourly workers. You are protected from voicing your concerns for your fellow coworkers or for a group of coworkers if it pertains to safety or other working conditions. That stuff is protected. So with the help of the organizers, the people in my department, we put together a letter and sent it over to the CEO and we listed all these safety concerns that we thought that the new management was ignoring and needlessly putting drivers’ lives at risk. That was a strategic effort made by our part so that we could have a signed letter as to when we started our concerted activity.
And I still could not at that time convince most of my coworkers that banding together was a good idea. So I started with the people that were closest to me first, and then when I showed them, look, we’ll go and we’ll talk to the CEO and then we’ll see what his response is and go off of that. We were all underwhelmed by the response of the CEO. The CEO brought in the management team that we were complaining against so that we could tell them these things in person. And it’s like you do that at your own peril. When you tell your bosses what’s really going on in the company, you might have the best intentions and be looking out for their best interest, but they don’t want to hear it. They really don’t care because that’s all part of the plan for them.
They strategically try to make these jobs so miserable so that they have these high turnover rates, and to discourage people from trying to build careers at these places that they’re making a fortune off of. Our CEO who employs about 500 minimum wage drivers and workers just bought a $4 million house and he tells us time and time again that he has no money. That there’s no money in this company. There’s no money in cannabis. And after four or five years of running this company, he just moved to a $4 million house. Something’s not adding up in that scenario.
Yeah. Can we take a look at the balance sheets? Because what you’re saying and what you’re doing, they’re not quite consistent.
Exactly. The leadership of this movement, they were all very supportive when I started presenting the issues that the people in my department were facing, and we decided that it was time for us to get a seat at the bargaining table as well. And this was before any of the unions. This was before the driver and warehouse union had been recognized. This was still a few months before they were able to succeed in that effort. It was just serendipitous that it was right around Halloween time and for whatever reason, we started throwing parties and that’s when people started to feel like, “Well, it’s now or never. I don’t know if I’m going to have this job much longer, so I might as well just get to know my coworkers now.” And so around Halloween time, I dressed up as a star fleet captain from Star Trek. I had the gold uniform and the badge. I remember going to my coworkers’ houses before a Halloween party dressed up like Captain Kirk and just asking, “Hey, are you down to band together and changed the conditions of your work?” Let me tell you, the uniform works. There’s a reason why these uniforms are iconic because they just demand a sense of … They have such gravitas to them.
And it was really surreal because within the two weeks going up to Halloween, I was able to get half of my department signed on. And unfortunately that was not enough because as the labor organizers at Teamsters let me know that they were really looking for 66% because inevitably people signed the support card but if you have to go into an election and especially an election for remote workers where they mail you a ballot and then you’ve got to mail it back and you only have a small one-week window to do it, it was going to be an obstacle that I did not not see us being able to jump over with just 50% support. So we decided at that point that it was time that we reached out outside of our bubble, and we started reaching out to the people in the customer service department that worked with us, but we didn’t really have the same type of daily interactions that we had in our department.
And so with that 50% support, we felt comfortable in actually going public with our efforts. And by going public with our effort, we were able … We wrote a letter to … Again, another letter to the CEO. We all signed it. And we said, “We’re the organizing committee. We’re going to be organizing your workplace. Please stay out of our way.” And with that freedom, I no longer had to remain as covert as I had been and I was able to reach out to the rest of the people. And by the time that we submitted our petition, our NLRB petition to unionize, I think we were at around 80% of my department altogether. Meanwhile, while all this is happening, there are two simultaneous campaigns in this company, much larger campaigns than the one in my department. My department had less than 20 people in it. When you lump in the logistics team and the customer service, it’s about 17, 18 people total.
Meanwhile, over on the driver and warehouse side, we knew that it couldn’t just fall on the people in my department to do this recruitment. And if we were to get this done in a timely manner, it was essential that the drivers had to break that barrier of communication, and they had to be the ones that started reaching out to each other and that they … That they were the best people to make the cases for themselves. And nobody really had any experience talking to other drivers on the phone because why would you? They had never had a reason to talk to any other drivers on the phone. So they knew their own issues, but they didn’t really know how to connect it to other people’s issues. Whereas I had a bird’s eye view as to what everybody was saying because everybody would pass their grievances along to me.
So it just so happened that my roommate was a PhD student at UCLA, and they are studying sociolinguistics and communication. And so they did an extracurricular activity where they would listen to my phone calls, they would only listen on my end, and they would break down what the strategy was for recruitment. Then they made a workshop. And originally we titled it the four C’s. And the four C’s were covert because at the time we were being covert about it, consent, connect, commit. So you would have that person’s consent, make that connection, and then commit. Have them make that commitment. I will be here on this day and sign this card. And with that workshop that was made by my roommate … We taught the organizing committee these tactics, and that’s when the movement really spread like wildfire, because now it’s not just one person who’s making who’s reaching out to drivers and trying to get them to sign up. Now we had eight people making these calls.
At the time, it did not feel like we were making a lot of progress. And then next thing you know, we have more than 50%. And next thing we have 60% and we’re trying to … 60% support card signed in the drivers and warehouse departments. And the company knew that they had already lost that match. They tried to stall as much as they could in recognizing the union. They did not want to have those support cards counted. And so they had to get an arbitrator to come and do the count. And all this started happening close to Christmastime of last year. And on the Friday before we got laid off, we had submitted this petition. One of the Teamsters organizers submitted the petition from my department requesting to be recognized as a collective bargaining unit to the company. And then five days later, they laid us all off. The entire US logistical department gone in the five days after we submit that petition to unionize. The timing could not be any more suspect because there was no … Just in my position alone, we had a really high turnover rate.
I don’t know if it was because of inadequate training methods or if it was because of the nature of the job. There’s a lot of multitasking involved. It’s a very stressful job. Very high stakes, and you don’t really have that much support outside of the one other, two people that you might be working with at that time. So a lot of people just quit because I understand it’s not worth it taking all these phone phone calls all day from drivers who are reasonably upset, have every right to be mad and frustrated at this company over the phone. And so when they let us all go and outsourced our jobs to India, to people over in Goa, we knew it was going to be a disaster. And because of the secret Signal chats that had been established for the drivers and warehouse workers, that they were gracious enough to let myself and other people from my department participate in that. They had every reason to be suspicious of us.
And had it not been for us making the effort to earn their trust, then there wouldn’t be this in-depth communication happening between the departments that the company never, ever wanted to happen. I’ve had directors at this company … Because I used to pitch a lot of ideas at this company of like, “Oh, what if we start a group for the drivers to get together? They could share places to eat.” I had all these ideas, and one of the directors told me, point-blank in a meeting, “We really don’t want these drivers talking to each other.” He wouldn’t go into the reasons why, but just straight to my face. And after we got laid off, because we already had these strong lines of communications within our department, we were able to set up a meeting with a legal representative from Teamsters, and her name is Renee Chavez. She was amazing in just laying out where we were in that moment. It’s a very scary moment for a lot of people.
Yeah. For sure.
I’m sure we’ve both been through that, right?
Yep. Yep. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That targeted termination for organizing.
And so 75% from the customer service logistics department just gone in a flash. They had been spacing these layoffs out during the week, but we caught wind of them on that first day. And within a matter of hours, we were able to have a Zoom meeting with the legal representative from Teamsters, and she was able to lay out exactly what our options were. And that’s when a lot of us had to make the decision as to whether or not we were going to accept the measly severance package that they had offered us, or if we were going to try to continue our fight in court and have the NLRB take up our case and make the argument to the judge and that case is in front of the judge as we speak. And the agents from the National Labor Relations Board are making the argument for us, and we are keeping our spirits high and our hopes alive that the outcome will serve justice and will deliver justice for the people that were illegally retaliated against by this greedy company.
And the support that the drivers and warehouse workers have shown the people in my department by consistently making noise, telling management how dangerous it is that they are now facing these long wait times to reach anyone over the phone, that these small technical issues that I used to be able to fix in seconds are now taking hours to resolve. That’s not an exaggeration. There are some little hiccups that the system will have that it only takes a few clicks to make it go away, but for whatever reason, they didn’t know about it because when the new management took over, they didn’t know a lot of the steps and procedures as to how our very inefficient logistics system … It’s an in-house logistics system developed by some overseas developers that work in a tech farm for this company. They don’t have the greatest quality control standards. I’m very comfortable just trying to find whatever gaps or whatever inefficiencies are in a system and finding ways to get around them just so that we could all go home safe and get our job done.
And with all that, now that we’re on the sidelines at the moment, the drivers and warehouse workers have been working really, really hard to just let management know just what are the dangers and what are the new set of grievances that they have having to call outsource workers for issues that they are not qualified to handle in the least sense.
Yeah, absolutely. Man, that’s a wild story and it seems like it continues to unfold. And so we’re definitely interested in hearing how it is that we can keep up with what it is that’s going on at Grassdoor and potentially how our viewers can support you in your fight. So where can we keep up with what’s going on?
I recommend everybody check out our Grassdoor’s Worker United Instagram account. It’s shorthanded to … Let’s see. Let me find the link of it. I’ll share with you the link.
Yeah. And we can post that with the story.
Grassdoor Workers United. I think it’s shorthanded, @GrassdoorWorkers. There are two accounts. One of the accounts is ran by one of the other drivers who is the main … Who is one of the … They’re actually the bargaining rep now because the drivers and warehouse workers in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, they have both successfully won their union campaigns. And we had our election and we were allowed to vote even though we had been laid off for the election in our department to help the few people who were still in the department. And currently the union status of that department hinges on whether or not we get our jobs back. So that’s where that’s at at the moment.
The real legwork for this company, for the union efforts of this company have definitely been the drivers and warehouse workers. They had to overcome so much hostility, so much fear, and so much anxiety just talking to each other because of how deeply ingrained that system and culture of fear had been permeated through every aspect of this job. And for them to finally break free of that oppression, and finally be able to vent freely about what it is that they face at their workplace and in their lives day to day has been monumental. The company never helps out with any automotive repairs or maintenance that the drivers need to do in order to keep working and they will let you go if you are unable to drive your car to work. They’ll put you on leave for a little bit, but after a certain amount of time, if you’re not able to cough up the cash to get your wheels back on the road, then forget it. You’re straight out of luck.
That sounds like something we see very common in this country. They socialize the cost and they privatize the gains. So G, I could talk to you all day about this, my guy. Thank you so much for taking the time to just walk us through your effort to share your insights and to hopefully inspire some workers in the cannabis industry to take on the fight like you guys have and successfully won. We’re very interested to see how your story continues to unfold, and we’re very much looking forward to hearing from you in the future. Thank you so much, man.
Absolutely. Any cannabis workers out there anywhere, but especially in California, if you folks want a better working, a better workplace, better working conditions, better wages, better benefits, hit me up. I will help you organize your workplace. I will get you in contact with the organizers that you need to get in contact with. I will do the research necessary to help that movement advance as far as possible.
There you go.
I’m here for everybody. And I think the experience that we all had is invaluable. And I am fighting to see a California where working in cannabis is a career that you could comfortably live off of at any level.
There you go. And we’ll make sure to put the links for your guys’ Instagram page and the description, so that way anybody watching this who wants to get in touch with you and wants to learn more about how they can engage in organizing their workplace within the cannabis industry, we’re going to try and help make that connection. So my friend, thank you so much for your time.
Likewise. Thank you, Vince. Much appreciated.
All righty, everyone. That was G from over at Grassdoor Workers. And I think an important thing to consider in listening to his story is the concept of sacrifice. And it can be daunting. It can be frightening. I remember even within my own organizing effort, you consider what it is that you’re potentially giving up, the comforts that you have, the secure paycheck. Ultimately, G paid the ultimate price in losing his job. But I think there’s something very valuable to look at in that. I’m drawn to a line in a movie, The Matrix. And it’s at the very end where Agent Smith is saying, “Why? Why do you persist? Why?” And Neo looks at him and says, “Because I choose to.” And I think that that’s such an important thing and something that’s encapsulated in G’s story. And so when you find yourself frightened and you feel like God, this is daunting, this is scary, remember that it is a choice to either do something or to not do something. And hopefully hearing these stories, you guys decide to do something, and we want you to know from G to myself, should you decide to do that, we’re here for you. This is Vince for The Real News, until next time, y’all.