xHgGrtG-show-poster2x3-aXpIxNN.png

Artbound

Start watching
Tending Nature show poster

Tending Nature

Start watching
IYhnPQZ-show-poster2x3-Ytk6YwX.png

Southland Sessions

Start watching
RYQ2PZQ-show-poster2x3-OGargou.jpg

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
E5VnHdZ-show-poster2x3-PrXshoo.png

City Rising

Start watching
QraE2nW-show-poster2x3-uY3aHve.jpg

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement and Special Events teams.

Lancaster Rite Aid Workers Score A Rare Labor Victory

Rite Aid protest Somerville, MA
Rite Aid protest Somerville, MA. |  Photo: Jobs with Justice/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Workers at Rite Aid's Southwest Distribution Center in Lancaster were able to earn a major labor victory this week by reaching a tentative three-year deal with management that will raise wages in each of the next three years, improve health care coverage, protect their jobs from subcontractors looking drop the bottom out on wages, and improve safety conditions at the warehouse. More than 500 workers in the economically troubled city of Lancaster will receive these benefits.

Workers at the Rite Aid facility voted to join the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in June of 2008. But it would be another 3 years before their demands were actually met, as Rite Aid used every stall tactic in the book to break the union and force concessions from workers, who were struggling to make due in the crumbling economy. Lancaster was and continues to be among the hardest hit cities in the nation after the country's economic collapse. In 2010 the unemployment rate was 17% as the city shed more than 6% of its jobs. Foreclosure rates are among the highest in L.A. County. In a city with just over 150,000 people, Lancaster trails only L.A., Long Beach and neighboring Palmdale in the total number of foreclosures in the first quarter of 2011.

For workers to fight and hold out as long as they did was a brave and risky thing to do. As public sector unions have suddenly and inexplicably become the fall guys for the nations economic collapse, deals like the one reached by Rite Aid workers have become virtually nonexistent. The L.A. City Council approved a deal last week that would make 13,000 workers forgo previously agreed on salary raises and pay an additional 4% of their salary to retirement healthcare plans. So far, no agreement has been reached with the city's various unions.

The situation of the poor and working class in America has gotten so bad that even Wal-Mart is complaining Americans don't have enough money to shop in its stores.

Meanwhile in Lancaster, improved health insurance coverage for workers will likely shift the burden away from county medical facilities, which often get stiffed when underpaid workers show up at their door unable to afford care. And with guaranteed wage increases and job security, workers are better equipped to make large purchases like homes and automobiles that form the backbone of L.A. County's economy.

Inexplicably, the Rite Aid union deal hasn't received much attention in the media. But make no mistake, this was an important victory for the quality of life of L.A. County workers. Here's hoping other workers across the Southland follow suit and fight for fair treatment.

la_vitamin_report-mini

The L.A. Vitamin Report is a column about quality of life issues by Matthew Fleisher. It is brought to KCET's SoCal Focus blog in partnership with Spot.Us, which receives support from the Cailfornia Endowment.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
People pull up in their vehicles for Covid-19 vaccines in the parking lot of The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 19, 2021. | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

L.A. County Expands COVID Vaccines to Residents 65 And Older

L.A. County began scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those aged 65 and older today, but limited supplies and uncertainty about future allocations has left the inoculation effort shrouded in doubt.
Bill Kobin - hero image

Public Media and KCET Legend Bill Kobin Dies at 91

William H. “Bill” Kobin, a public media icon who helped build PBS flagship station KCET into a Los Angeles powerhouse, airing news programs like the acclaimed “Life & Times” and helping to launch Huell Howser’s career, has died.
Pupils listen to school lessons broadcast over a solar radio in Dalu village, Tana River County, Kenya, November 28, 2020. | Thomson Reuters Foundation/Benson Rioba

With Schools Shut by Pandemic, Solar Radios Keep Kenyan Children Learning

Solar-powered radios have been distributed to the poorest homes that lack electricity access, with lessons broadcast daily during the COVID-19 crisis — and perhaps beyond.