Labor journalist Mike Elk writes about 500 Rite Aid pharmacy workers in California who finally succeeded in winning a union contract that provides them with health care, job protection and pay increases, and talks about how their unionization strategy could be used as a road map for the labor movement. —YL
Using a creative campaign Rite Aid workers were able to force management to sit down at the table and bargain with them. Workers started by attending yearly stockholder meetings and opening lines of communications with stockholders and board members. They released detailed reports about how much money the union busting efforts of Rite Aid was costing the company. Workers were able to persuade some stockholders to put pressure on Rite Aid to negotiate a fair and equitable contract.
Likewise, they used their leverage against Rite Aid by expanding the fight across various unions and the country. They formed a coalition of nationwide Rite Aid workers from various unions including UFCW, SEIU, and Teamsters who coordinated their strategy. Workers reached out to powerful community allies with groups like United Students against Sweatshops and Jobs with Justice. They held protests in nearly 50 cities across the country against Rite Aid and promised to apply more heat if Rite Aid didn’t settle the contract dispute in California.