A small group of union members converged on the Rite Aid drugstore in Davis Sq. on Friday, April 3 to condemn the company’s abuse of workers’ rights and urge Congress to pass the “Employee Free Choice Act” — a law backed by President Barack Obama that would better protect employees who want to form unions by limiting employer interference in the process.
“Right Aid and other companies think it’s fine to threaten and fire workers who want a union,” said Sylvia Estrada, a 48-year-old mother of six, who has worked at the Rite Aid distribution center in Lancaster, CA, for almost 10 years with more than 500 other employees. “After all the threats and firings, we still voted for the union, but the harassment continues and now they won’t negotiate a contract with us.”
“Rite Aid is a textbook example of why workers need the Employee Free Choice Act,” said Somerville resident and union member Rand Wilson.
The Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for workers to form unions to bargain with their employers for better wages, health care, and job security. The legislation would also help employees secure a contract in a reasonable period of time and toughen penalties against employers who violate the law.
“Today we sent Rite Aid managers a message that we expect this company to comply with the law and respect workers’ rights,” Wilson added. “We want an economy that works for everyone — including the warehouse workers in Lancaster. Winning the employee free choice will help spread prosperity to more working families.”
In 2007, the federal government was prepared to charge Rite Aid with 49 labor law violations for threatening and firing employees at the Lancaster distribution center. Flaws in federal labor laws allowed the company to evade the violations with only a slap on the wrist and promise to behave in the future.
Other Massachusetts protests were held in Amesbury, Boston (Gov’t Ctr. and Kenmore Sq), East Boston, Everett and Methuen and by the Western Mass. Jobs with Justice chapter in Springfield, Easthampton, and Greenfield on April 2. They were part of dozens of similar actions organized by Jobs with Justice coalitions at Rite Aid stores in Albany, Bangor, Buffalo, Nashville, New York City, Portland, OR, Providence, Richmond, and Tacoma. Fifteen similar protests took place on February 13 in California, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Photos from Friday’s events can be seen at: http://picasaweb.google.com/randwilson.aflcio/ProtestsAtRiteAidShowSupportForTheEmployeeFreeChoiceAct?feat=directlink
Jobs with Justice is a community-labor coalition that links workers’ struggles to help build a larger movement for social and economic justice. Learn more at www.massjwj.net