Raley’s Files Lawsuit To Force Pharmacists To Vote on Proposed Contract
Raley's supermarket chain on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court that asks for an order to force the company's unionized pharmacists to hold a second vote on a contract agreement rejected earlier this month, the Sacramento Bee reports (Ferraro, Sacramento Bee, 10/23). Raley's and the pharmacists, represented by the Independent Pharmacists Association, reached a tentative four-year contract agreement on Sept. 7. The pharmacists have not had a contract since Sept. 1, when an extension of the previous contract expired (California Healthline, 9/10). However, the pharmacists rejected the proposed contract on an 87-84 vote. In the lawsuit, Raley's alleges that the union did not "strongly recommend without qualifications" that the pharmacists approve the contract agreement. According to the lawsuit, written correspondence from the union to the pharmacists "is replete with caveats and observations about perceived shortcomings" of the contract agreement. The lawsuit alleges that the union's failure to endorse the proposed contract violated the settlement agreement. In addition to the request for a second vote, Raley's officials said that the company will retract an offer for retroactive wage increases, which would cost about $1,500 per pharmacist. Retirement health benefits remain the "main sticking point" between Raley's and the pharmacists, who have sought benefits equal to those of current employees. Raley's and the union have not resumed contract negotiations since the pharmacists rejected the proposed contract. "It was unclear" yesterday whether the pharmacists would strike or whether other unionized Raley's workers would "honor a pharmacists' strike picket line," the Bee reports. Raley's officials said that the company has a plan that would use a "pharmacy ambassador" in each store to direct customers to Bel Air stores -- a separate supermarket chain owned by Raley's -- or to a toll-free telephone number that would provide information on where to have their prescriptions filled (Sacramento Bee, 10/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.