Angel Warner, an employee at a Rite Aid distribution center, sat next to me recently in a congressional briefing room and described what happened when she and her fellow workers tried to form a union in their California workplace. She talked about the surveillance, constant threats and harassment they endured; how she and other workers were repeatedly taken aside and interrogated, one on one, about how they planned to vote; how two co-workers were fired; and how the rest lived in fear that any day they, too, might get a pink slip. The union filed numerous charges of unfair labor practices and eventually won the organizing election. But three years after the campaign began, Warner and her fellow Rite Aid workers still don't have a contract.
Like most U.S. companies, Rite Aid takes full advantage of current labor law to try to keep workers from exercising their full rights to organize and collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. Far from an aberration, such behavior by U.S. companies during union organizing campaigns has become routine, and our nation's labor laws neither protect workers' rights nor provide disincentives for employers to stop disregarding those rights.