Rite Aid Workers Vote to Strike
PALM DESERT--Rite Aid workers in Southern California overwhelmingly vote to authorize a strike.
Representatives from both sides say they would rather negotiate a new contract, than strike. However, workers say they're ready to hit the picket line if negotiations fail.
Union members unhappy with Rite Aid's contract offer are ready to flex their muscle. The United Food and Commercial Workers voted to authorize a strike should negotiations with the drug store giant fail.
"This is an opportunity for them to do the right thing, and instead what they'd like to do is get on this band wagon, this whole fear of i'm not going to have a job. They can afford it. What they choose to do is not to afford it and what they're choosing to do is make people forced between whether they want to have insurance or they're going to eat," Joe Duffle, Director of Organizing for UFCW Local 1167 said.
Devastating cuts to health care benefits, including the elimination of retiree health care and increased out of pocket costs for health insurance, are a couple of the 34 concessions the UFCW say Rite Aid is asking for..
But Rite Aid officials are calling the vote premature and told KMIR6 the union hasn't given them a counter proposal.
"Rather than talk about a strike that really serves to help no one...Our time and effort is best spent preparing to get back to the table and doing the hard work to reach an agreement," Rite Aid Corporation said in an email.
"The companies two proposals that they gave to the union, one of them would cost employees up to $8,000 a year and the other $10,000 a year. A substantial, substantial hit on working folks in these stores," Duffle said.
The possible strike would effect 8 union chapters in Southern California that represent a total of 365 Rite Aid stores.
About a thousand workers are affected by these negotiations in Riverside and San Bernardino counties alone.