An intensive one hundred city and town petition drive is launching today aimed at customers and workers affected by the proposed purchase of Brooks and Eckerd drugstores by Rite Aid. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and UNITE HERE are concerned that the purchase will result in store closings that could negatively impact people who rely on these drugstores for employment and for access to prescription medication.
Leafleting and petitioning activity will take place Wednesday, November 15, 2006 in front of Brooks and Eckerds drugstores located in your community. Call media contacts for locations of activities.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that transactions like this have an immediate impact on people’s lives. The goal of the petition is not to block or permit Rite Aid from buying other drugstores. But the proposed transaction is likely to have an impact on customers, and that impact should be reviewed by state-based officials to make sure that retirees, the disabled, and other vulnerable drugstore customers and workers are not harmed by this transaction,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President.
“We believe Brooks and Eckerd’s customers and employees are concerned about their stores being bought. This petition gives them an opportunity to voice that concern. They are constituencies that we hope the Attorneys General will take steps to protect from the potential impact of store closings or sales,” said Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE HERE.
The transaction is already being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency responsible for reviewing the antitrust impact of business combinations in the retail drugstore sector. The petition [attached] calls on the state Attorneys General to open their own investigations to add a more local level of review to the Rite Aid transaction.
State Attorney Generals’ offices often conduct parallel antitrust investigations to their federal counterparts. In 1996, four states announced their opposition to a larger transaction that Rite Aid had proposed on antitrust grounds, effectively blocking the purchase.
Rite Aid announced on August 24, 2006 its intention to purchase over 1,800 Eckerd and Brooks drugstores for $3.4 billion from the Jean Coutu Group, Inc., a Canadian corporation. The transaction as proposed would make Rite Aid the dominant drugstore chain in many markets throughout the eastern United States.