Workers Rally to Make It Right at Rite Aid

Hundreds of Rite Aid workers and supporters from Pennsylvania, New York and California rallied this morning outside the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Harrisburg, Pa., to demand good jobs and a voice at work.

During the rally, Sylvia Estrada and Angel Warner, two workers from Rite Aid’s massive distribution center in Lancaster, Calif., described the five-year struggle by 550 employees to form a union.

We want to work with Rite Aid and grow this company. These jobs pay our bills. But we also want to be paid fairly and treated with respect.  For that, we need Rite Aid to reach an agreement with our union (International Longshore and Warehouse Union).

“We’re standing with the Rite Aid workers to help them win the good jobs our communities need,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale told the crowd.

Rite Aid should recognize that its employees are its most important asset. It’s time for Rite Aid to stop stalling and to negotiate a fair contract with its workers.

Immediately after the rally, Bloomingdale and about 20 Rite Aid workers and union representatives attended the annual meeting. Daniel Pedrotty, director of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment, introduced a resolution calling for shareholders to have a say on CEO pay.

Here’s why Rite Aid shareholders need a say on pay:

According to an AFL-CIO briefing paper, released today, Rite Aid’s stock price has dropped 75 percent since Mary Sammons took over as CEO in 2003. The company also has lost between $70 million and $2.3 billion every quarter since 2007. Yet Sammons received millions in compensation, including nearly $6 million in fiscal year 2008 and $3.2 million in fiscal year 2010.

Sammons, who is stepping down as CEO tomorrow, will continue as chairwoman of the Rite Aid board with a base salary of at least $750,000 and may earn a bonus for the 2011 fiscal year. Under her current contract, had she been fired at the end of the 2010 fiscal year, she would have received a golden parachute of more than $14 million, according to the briefing paper.

As Pedrotty told the shareholders:

A say on pay for investors would provide meaningful feedback and enable the owners of the company to send a clear signal that we do not approve of these kinds of pay practices.