The article says that new management at the warehouse demanded mandatory, last-minute overtime, and that, combined with other issues, has resulted in employees fighting back by contacting the Longshore Workers (ILWU) Local 26.
The Labor Notes article says that Rite Aid responded by threatening, harassing and firing employees who were in support of the union. According to the article, the National Labor Relations Board has indicated that it is prepared to issue a complaint against Rite Aid for some of its practices.
While Rite Aid Assistant Managers argue that they are not being properly compensated for overtime and other company employees say they are also not being treated properly at all, a former Rite Aid Assistant manager says that when he worked for the company, a long time ago, he received very little in the way of overtime pay.
"I was still 18 years old and had just gotten married and worked for JC Penny," Jim says. "I knew some people in the Rite Aid management program. In January 1979, I started working for Rite Aid. I started working as a management trainee, working in Pittsburgh about an hour's drive away. I couldn't believe I was in management—I was 18 years old. I had store keys after I got trained and I opened and closed the store. I don't remember how much I made starting out.
After I was promoted to assistant manager, I was making about $165 a week. I was working between 50 and 55 hours a week. They paid what was called 'Chinese overtime.' You made an hourly rate for 40 hours a week and half that rate beyond 40 hours. [For example, if you made $20 an hour for regular time, you received $10 an hour for overtime pay.] You did not get time and a half.
At the time I never really questioned it. I was 19 years old when I was promoted to assistant manager, and I had complete responsibilities. I was just like the manager. For a brief time, about 2.5 to 3 months, one store manager had an operation and I took over the store. I was still considered an assistant manager, making $165 a week but I was a manager.
In mid-1980, I was promoted to store manager and was making $185 a week. I thought it was great until I heard other people talk about what they were making [with other companies]. A friend at Wendy's said that their trainees start at $225 weekly. I didn't know any better before that. I had just gotten married, I thought I was a hotshot, and then I realized I wasn't getting paid hardly anything.
I stayed with them until June of 1981. I left and got a job as trainee manager at Wendy's at $40 more a week.
It seemed funny, but they [Rite Aid] kept saying that I had a salary but I never thought about what it would be per hour. I was overwhelmed by the position and authority. I knew that people got time and a half for overtime. But, it just seemed okay. They made it sound good. I should tell you that they [Rite Aid] never said 'Chinese overtime,' other management people said it, I'd never heard of it before."
While some employees look to unions to help protect them from unfair treatment, some assistant managers are looking to the courts, hoping to be compensated for their unpaid overtime.