(ROSEMEAD, Calif.) — Today, union representatives and consumer advocates distributed educational handbills to customers at Rite Aid [NYSE: RAD] stores in Rosemead, Calif. The handbills read, “Tell Rite Aid: Attacking People’s Health Care is Bad Business” and “Rite Aid: Bad Deal for Workers.”
Customers filling prescriptions were warned of possible work stoppages and/or supply issues, due to a current labor dispute at one of Rite Aid’s subsidiaries.
Approximately 100 employees of Rite Aid’s Thrifty Ice Cream plant in El Monte, Calif. have been negotiating a new contract since last year. The workers, who are members of Teamsters Local 630 and 63, want to keep their affordable union health care plan. Yet Rite Aid proposes to move them into a company plan with much higher deductibles and co-pays. This would force dozens of workers to pay thousands of extra dollars a year to continue vital medical care, an added expense that most cannot afford.
“Rite Aid calls itself a ‘wellness’ company and makes most of its money filling prescriptions. It’s outrageous that the company is attacking the health care of its employees who make and deliver Thrifty Ice Cream in Southern California,” said Randy Cammack, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42.
Thrifty Ice Cream employees voted unanimously to strike if Rite Aid doesn’t change its position. A strike could affect Rite Aid operations throughout Southern California and elsewhere—all while the company awaits anti-trust approval from the federal government of its proposed merger with Walgreens. This merger could result in 1,200 or more stores being sold to Fred’s, a pharmacy chain from the South.
“Rite Aid can ill-afford a labor dispute that can threaten brand reputation and customer loyalty in Southern California, particularly when it is in the midst of trying to sell itself to Walgreens,” said Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Teamsters Dairy Conference Director. “If the merger goes through, hundreds of Rite Aid stores will have to be divested in California and elsewhere. The Federal Trade Commission is deciding whether the merger should get the green light. Does Rite Aid, or Fred’s, really want labor unrest on their hands right now?”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.