GOOD NEWS! After two and a half years of negotiations and numerous set-backs, Rite Aid workers have accomplished what sometimes felt unachievable: they have won a strong contract at Rite Aid.
The contract runs through April 2019, and maintains affordable health insurance for the workers and their families, annual raises, the maintenance of the bargaining unit and the 1199 pension. Also of note is that Rite Aid has settled this contract before selling stores to Walgreens, which means that Walgreens will have to follow these contractual terms until the workers negotiate a new contract with them.
Rite Aid pharmacists, pharmacy techs, interns and cashiers had been without a contract since 2015 because the company was refusing to bargain fairly. At one time, Rite Aid owed millions to the National Benefit Fund, and was trying to remove future pharmacists from the bargaining unit. The workers’ retirement benefits were also at risk.
Also creating uncertainty was the threat of a merger between Rite Aid and Walgreens, the largest drug store chain worldwide. The merger fell through following FTC concerns about the potential negative impact this could have on consumers and working people. However, Rite Aid is still selling several thousand stores to Walgreens, and workers were concerned about the impact this could have on good jobs for the community. It was crucial that Rite Aid settle a fair contract before selling these stores.
Rite Aid workers couldn’t have won this victory without standing together in unity and strength. Rite Aid was ready to gut the strength of the bargaining unit by removing future pharmacists, and only after the workers showed them that they would not back down did they agree to fair terms. Rite Aid workers are an example to all 1199ers of the power of our union when we stand strong!