Rite Aid workers and supporters turn up heat with San Pedro boycott

The ongoing strike at six Rite Aid stores in the Cleveland area inspired the third in a series of “national action days” at the retail drugstores on April 1. Hundreds of supporters, including Rite Aid workers, customers, students, community members, elected officials, union members and activists all rallied at Rite Aid stores in two dozen cities across the U.S. Each group told the company to respect workers’ rights and drop plans to overcharge employees for health insurance. Workers in Cleveland walked off their jobs on March 14 after federal agents charged Rite Aid and 17 company officials with dozens of federal law violations, including harassment and intimidation. Solidarity actions took place in eight states – CA, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, and WA – plus Washington, DC.

Once again, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) affiliates were out in force with groups from Ithaca, NY, Los Angeles, New Brunswick, NJ, Palo Alto, CA, Seattle, State College, PA, and Washington, DC participating. Jobs with Justice sponsored actions in Cleveland, Methuen, MA and Bellingham, WA and UFCW Local 1445 visited Rite Aid stores in MA. UFCW Locals 1360 and 876 did the same in NJ and MI, respectively. The AFL-CIO also has been supporting Rite Aid workers around the country. Most recently, it sent a representative to assist UFCW Local 880 in Cleveland.

The biggest action took place in San Pedro, CA, where hundreds joined Rite Aid workers from the company’s big distribution center in Lancaster, CA to launch a “pinpoint” boycott of two Rite Aid stores in San Pedro. Workers are backing the boycott in San Pedro to support their fellow workers in Cleveland – several of whom attended the kick-off – and to boost their own fight for a fair first agreement. San Pedro’s Rite Aid stores are good targets for the “pinpoint” boycott because so many union members used to shop there. Last year, union families spent almost $2 million for prescriptions at the two stores. The new boycott aims to slash that amount until Rite Aid agrees to stop overcharging workers for health insurance.

For more information about the April 1 National Day of Action and the Rite Aid workers’ campaigns in Cleveland, Lancaster, CA and elsewhere, please visit the Coalition of Rite Aid Workers website: www.riteaidworkers.net. Also, please see: Labor Notes article by Jenny Brown: Unions Say ‘Strip the Scripts’ in Rite Aid Disputes and In These Times article by Rand Wilson: Rite Aid Workers’ Strike in Cleveland Sparks Nationwide Protest.

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