Rite Aid workers & shareholders voice concerns at company's annual meeting

Jun 21, 2012, 17:54 ET from Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released today by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Concerned workers, union leaders, and shareholders voiced a host of concerns at Rite Aid's annual shareholder meeting in Harrisburg, PA, on Thursday afternoon, June 21. The concerns of shareholders and employees were all directed at company executives, who were accused of enriching themselves, mismanaging the company, and violating federal labor laws – while failing to earn a profit for 20-straight quarters.  The shareholder meeting opened at 1:30pm at the Holiday Inn in Harrisburg, PA and lasted just over 90 minutes.

Before the meeting started, concerned workers and union leaders from California, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia held a "Summit Meeting" nearby in an effort to seek constructive solutions to the company's serious problems:

  • Net losses for 20 straight quarters.
  • New evidence of age discrimination, based on the questionable firings of older workers.
  • Conflicts-of-interest and a lack of independence among Rite Aid Board members.
  • Continuing evidence of corporate greed being practiced by company executives.

The nation's third-largest drug store chain operates 4700 stores in 31 states. While the company's stock price has fallen by 80% since June 2007, company executives have continued to provide themselves with exorbitant pay raises and perks, including "golden parachutes," personal use of corporate jets, and other luxuries – while demanding cutbacks from employees.

On Tuesday, Rite Aid agreed to pay $21 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by 6,000 employees who said the company had violated labor laws by cheating them out of pay during the past ten years.

New allegations of discrimination against senior employees and union members were also raised.

Other concerns included efforts by Rite Aid's highly-paid executives to shift the burden of health insurance onto low-paid workers and taxpayers.

Company executives opposed three reforms proposed by shareholders to improve management accountability and performance at Rite Aid; all were defeated at the urging of the company, including:

  • Prohibiting shareholders from having to pay for personal taxes owed by executives;
  • Ensuring a more independent Board of Directors by prohibiting conflicts of interest;
  • Requiring executive pay to be more closely tied to the company's performance.

Employees vowed to continue working with shareholders to increase accountability, and end the abuse and mismanagement by Rite Aid executives. CEO John Standley agreed to meet with worker representatives in the future

SOURCE Pennsylvania AFL-CIO