I am happy to report that we have ratified a new three-year deal with Rite Aid, and it’s a contract we can be proud of. We achieved this contract because of our members’ strength and solidarity.
Our members made excellent gains. Here are some highlights for pharmacists and clerks: the pension plan has been protected; medical benefits are protected and there is no additional cost to our members. You will retain seniority for one year if laid off, which was extended from nine months. You also get significant wage increases over the next three years.
However, this contract didn’t come without a struggle. When negotiations began back in May of this year, Rite Aid wanted pharmacists out of the union, and they wanted our members out of our health care trust fund and on a Rite Aid health care plan – which would not have been good for you. And, of course, they didn’t want to give our members well deserved raises.
They played hardball, and they thought we would cave. But we knew we had the strength of the entire Rite Aid membership.
And to add to the stress, Rite Aid opened up a new, non-union store in Del Mar, so we had a fight on our hands with that too. It was the only non-union Rite Aid store in Southern California. Our members and community members went out and rallied and picketed that store. Because we showed so much strength and solidarity, all new Rite Aid stores will be union.
On July 16, our members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, which showed Rite Aid that we are one and we are strong. We also had our community partners and the rest of the labor movement behind us.
We went out and leafleted stores to let the customers know how workers were being treated, and negotiations were still difficult through the end.
Rite Aid negotiators saw our solidarity, which allowed us to make significant gains at the bargaining table.
It was your own strength and solidarity that got you this contract. Without it, we couldn’t have won this contract campaign. Ultimately solidarity won. It was the most powerful factor in these negotiations. As long as we have solidarity, we will always win.