Raley’s Unionized Pharmacists Reject Contract Proposal in Second Vote, May Plan To Strike
Unionized pharmacists at the Raley's supermarket chain yesterday voted against the company's contract proposal, the second time in two months that the pharmacists refused to endorse an agreement between the company and their union, the Sacramento Bee reports. The pharmacists, represented by the Independent Pharmacists Association, voted 110-91 against the contract proposal (Ferraro, Sacramento Bee, 11/25). Earlier this month, 220 full- and part-time Raley's pharmacists received ballots to consider the contract proposal a second time after they rejected the agreement last month; the pharmacists have not had a contract since Sept. 1. The company and the pharmacists have disagreed over retirement health benefits. The pharmacists have sought health benefits for retirees equal to those of current employees (California Healthline, 11/7). Raley's officials have said that the company cannot afford to xtend health benefits to retirees because of "skyrocketing" health care costs (Sacramento Bee, 11/25). The company has offered to pay retirees a lump-sum payment based on years of experience and said that the wages that pharmacists receive are "adequate for them to contribute to a post-retirement medical savings account" (California Healthline, 11/7). Raley's officials have not said whether the company will begin new negotiations with IPA or prepare for a strike. Raley's spokesperson Carolyn Konrad said, "It's unfortunate that the settlement agreement did not pass. We believe we've exhausted the negotiating process." IPA officials have asked Raley's to respond in the next seven days to a request to resume contract negotiations. IPA President Mike Ureda said, "If the company refuses to come back and talk to us, then we'd seriously have to look at a job action. Our membership has shown that we're not going to take just anything, and the contract has been turned down twice. I think (Raley's) should be getting the message at this point." Raley's President William Coyne this week also will likely decide whether to proceed with a federal lawsuit that alleges IPA did not recommend the contract proposal to the pharmacists (Sacramento Bee, 11/25).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.