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Teamsters union faults Rite Aid in distribution center closing, charges filed

By PAT BAILEY

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Members of the Teamsters Local 182 are blaming Rite Aid for the future closing of the distribution center in Rome, and the loss of nearly 400 jobs. Officials with the union say Rite Aid did not have the best interest of the workers in mind when they made the decision to close the facility and start laying workers off January 1st.

Timothy Hogan, President of Local 182, said Monday the union wants Rite Aid to take care of the roughly 340 or so union workers at that distribution center. The union would like to see as many workers as possible follow the company to Syracuse once they make their move, said Hogan.

However, Hogan is upset at the potential incentives any worker would have if they make the move. According to Hogan the Liverpool, NY distribution center is not a union shop, and any employee from Rome may be considered a new hire in Liverpool.

The average starting salary In Liverpool is well below the average pay for workers at the Rome plant, around $5-$6 lower, said one union representative Monday.
 
Outside of the massive Rite Aid Distribution Center in Rome Monday, Hogan said Rite Aid knew for months they would be closing but did not tell the workers until it was time to talk about a new contract.
     
Local 182 union has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the company:
one for Rite Aid allegedly failing to bargain their decision, with the union, to close and the second for Rite Aid's refusal to show proper documents stating why the company had to close.
    
The union has the best interest of their workers in mind during this time, Hogan said.

"I am sick of Rite Aid saying it is our fault this place is closing, that we don't care about the members," said Hogan. "We are standing out here today because Rite Aid is saying it is our fault this place is closing. We care about the members, and that is the only thing we care about."

"We care about these 340 people that have house payments and have to put food on their table everyday." Hogan added.

Hogan said he would like to see a fair severance package offered to the soon to be laid off workers.

Despite the claims of unfair labor charges and claims that Rite Aid unlawfully decided to close the distribution center, a spokesperson for the company says they are focused on their associates.

"Our associates are most important for us," said Ashley Flower. "We know our associates are eager to find out the details regarding severance, out placement services and employment opportunities.We understand they are concerned and have questions about their future."

"We believe that the charges are without merit and that we have provided all the information needed to have a fruitful bargaining session. We are looking forward to getting back to the table this week."

Both sides plan to continue negotiations later this week. 

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