Rite Aid Valentine protest: "Show love for worker's rights"


The weather was freezing but spirits were high as several dozen labor and community activists picketed Rite Aid at W. 117th St. and Lorain Ave. in Cleveland to protest the giant pharmacy's attempt to take away fully paid union health insurance.

While passing motorists honked in support, Councilwoman Dona Brady took a delegation inside and presented Store Manager Stacey Braddock with a letter backing efforts of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880 to resolve the issue and sign a new contract.

"You're not being fair to your employees," she said. "Health care costs are skyrocketing. We want you to provide full coverage. Health care is not a privilege. It's a right."

Braddock would only say she would forward the letter. State Representative Nikki Antonio got the same response when she came later and confronted pharmacy district manager Tom Freda, who had been summoned to the scene.

The action Feb. 11 was part of a "National Valentine's Day of Action" and kicked off a week of protests against the company's anti-labor policies by a coalition including the UFCW, the International Longshore and Warehouse union, Jobs with Justice and United Students Against Sweatshops.

"Rite Aid Don't Break Our Hearts," read a flyer. "Show your love for workers' rights."

Mike Martino, an organizer with the UFCW, said the company was refusing to settle a contract dispute with 500 warehouse workers at Rite Aid's distribution center in Lancaster, California.

In northeastern Ohio, the UFCW represents 275 workers at 25 stores who have been working without a contract since the old agreement expired last April. Negotiations have been fruitless, Martino said, as the company has refused to back off its demand to end the union health plan and make workers pay for premiums.

"These are workers who have given up pay increases for health coverage," he said. The store clerks, who only make eight to nine dollars an hour, have twice voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, he added.

"A strike is imminent unless the company relents."

Other employers are watching the situation closely, said Laura Grissinger, a union steward at a local supermarket. "We are all in this together."

The union has called on supporters to make their views known to Rite Aid store managers and transfer prescriptions to other union pharmacies until the dispute is settled.

Updated Feb. 16, 2011.

Photo: Debbie Kline


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  • who cares. how much can you pay a jerk to treat you the way they would want to be treated. it's meaningless--they're jerks, mostly. otherwise they couldn't face being nasty or cold day in and day out without hurting and reforming. I hate shopping at rite aid. the sales are decent, but i always have to "man up."

    Posted by barb, 03/06/2011 12:31am (4 years ago)

  • hi i agree with mark that you are only hurting yourselves when you retaliate at a company because you in return expect the company to do what is right but you do not do what is right ,even though i do not blame you for going in this route, but two wrongs do not make a right. The actions that you display make it so you lose customers that you will probably not gain back plus you teach your children bad morale behavior even though you expect the business/others to not do it to you/take responsibliity for your own actions but you are not attempting to do what is right and work with corporate first than try to get corporate heads to resign. Instead, do what is right by making compromises and if things don't go the right way then do like Egypt did and get the current top management at headquarters to resign just like the people in Egypt did with the president over there.Ex:corporate heads take a pay freeze and pay for health insurance as well, etc.

    Posted by b, 02/14/2011 5:55pm (4 years ago)

  • Mark, the company is in bad shape because of corporate fraud and embezelment. Pharmacists there are not allowed to take bathroom or lunch breaks, even though they are required by law. Instead, the 30 minute break ends up being unpaid labor. Often, pharmacists are asked to break the law by filling early or tending to the customer, putting their license in jeporady.
    "Goes both ways?", Mark, do you know what a company is? There is no loyalty; they either make money on you, as much as you can, or you're gone. Doesn't matter how much of a sycophant you are: it's the bottom line--a line you don't see as an employee.

    Posted by nampa, 02/14/2011 1:24pm (4 years ago)

  • I wonder how much cash Rite Aid drops into the yearly "marathon" event in downtown Cleveland, which is a PR blitz that merges the philosophy of a major corporation with healthy choices that people make on a daily basis....which - I gather - makes health insurance obsolete in the eyes of RA exectives.

    Posted by RDC, 02/14/2011 11:24am (4 years ago)

  • These protestors do realize the precarious situation of Rite Aid at the moment, right?? As for asking supporters to transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy, I think that takes company loyalty to a new low. It works both ways, why should Rite Aid show any care to employees who want to see the destruction of the company. If Rite Aid can't cut costs and increase sales then they will go bust and it won't matter whether the job gives health benefits or not because the cashiers won't have one.

    Posted by Mark, 02/14/2011 10:50am (4 years ago)

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