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    Southern California Rite Aid workers vote to reject contract offer; strike looms

    Members of seven Southern California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have voted to reject a contract offer from drug retailer Rite Aid and to authorize union leaders to call a strike if an agreement can’t be reached.

    Although specific numbers weren’t immediately released, the union called the vote, which took place from July 26 through July 30, “overwhelming” and said in a statement, “The members’ emphatic rejection of Rite Aid’s demands and their vote for strike authorization will push management toward negotiating an agreement the workers can ratify.”

    According to the same statement, the UFCW says that Rite Aid is seeking 34 concessions from workers, including:

    • Effective elimination of healthcare for workers' spouses and children

    • An increase in out-of-pocket costs for healthcare benefits of up to $10,000 a year

    • Virtual elimination of all accumulated sick leave pay

    • Reduction of the number of hours workers are allowed to work

    • Elimination of the 40-hour work week and 24-hour guarantee for part-time employees

    In a statement of its own, Rite Aid announced, “The specifics of our proposal are matters we will be discussing at the bargaining table with the Union as we continue to work hard to reach a fair agreement for all involved.

    “We’re disappointed that the Union has called for a strike authorization vote and think such a vote is premature, especially since the Union hasn’t even given us a counter proposal to our first proposal.”

    The proposal would affect all store employees except store managers, including pharmacists, at Rite Aid locations from Kern County south to the Mexican border. The soonest a strike could begin would be August 8, 72 hours after the current contract extension is set to expire.

    The union is also currently in negotiations with CVS/Caremark.

    David Stanley, RPh
    David Stanley is a pharmacy owner, blogger, and professional writer in northern California. Contact him at [email protected]