East County News Service
July 31, 2018 (San Diego) – Union employees of Southern California Rite Aid pharmacy stores voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject the company’s contract offer and authorize United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) to call a strike if union leaders deem it necessary.
A press release from UFCW local 135 contends, “The corporate proposal makes it almost impossible for employees to attain wage increases, eliminates wage protections for pharmacists, and cruelly strips retirees of health care benefits promised to them in their retirement, cruelly leaving them without coverage in their old age.”
The company’s offer includes a wage increase of 75 cents for most workers, with no raise for those earning the top rate. But according to the union, Rite Aid applies “unattainable conditions which guarantee that virtually no employees will actually get a raise, and those few that do will be forced to pay more than 80 percent of that raise right back to Rite Aid in the form of health care premiums.”
Further, if workers receive any minimum wage increase during the calendar year or if they receive an increase based on seniority, the 75-cent raise does not apply to them either. The company’s offer also strips healthcare from current and future employees and eliminates the current health plan and bans the union from any oversight of workers benefits, the union contends, adding that seniors who worked their whole careers for Rite Aid will lose health benefits immediately when the contract goes into effect.
“Our Rite Aid members are strong and unified. They deserve to be treated with respect. We are committed to protect their health benefits and retirement as well as ensuring they receive fair wage increases. They work hard day in and day out to serve our community,” said Mickey Kasparian, President of UFCW Local 135.
Carmen Ulloa is a single mother who has worked for 14 years as a shift supervisor at a Rite Aid. Ulloa points out that the company’s proposal prevents workers from receiving wage increases. “Things such as bills are already a struggle. We are struggling to get by and no raise and a change in healthcare plans would harm hundreds,” she said.
ECM has contacted Rite Aid and will publish an update if we receive a response.
Rite Aid Corporation is one of the nation's leading drugstore chains that operates more than 4,500 stores. In 2017, the company reported annual revenues of $32.8 billion. Rite Aid has advised its shareholders that it plans to quadruple its revenues from $22 billion to $83 billion through its planned merger with Albertson’s.